What particularly sets this apart from all the rest is the word “CURE.”
There is a lot of great research out there into treatment for chronic conditions ... but a cure? How do you like that?
Sometimes I sit here, in the dark, wondering: Is it because finding cures is impossible, is it a lack of ambition, or is it just plain conspiracy? As Chris Rock says, "The money isn't in the cure; the money is in the medicine."
Well, researches from the Universität Autònoma de Barcelona (UAB) might just have found one.
A cure for Type 1 diabetes in dogs.
Too good to be true? Maybe. Sounds promising, though.
The researchers at the UAB have succeeded in completely curing (or at least bringing about long term remissions in) type 1 diabetes in dogs with a single session of gene therapy by introducing a “glucose sensor” into muscle.
Completely curing with a single session of gene therapy.
If that is not exciting, I don't know what is.
The gene therapy injection results in expression of genes for insulin and the enzyme glucokinase, both of which help regulate glucose levels in the blood.
To roughly explain what “expression of a gene” means: a gene is a portion of DNA that codes for a protein, for example the hormone insulin. In other words, it carries instructions on how insulin should be made. When a gene is “expressed” the body actually goes out and makes the stuff (insulin, in this case). It's a bit more complex, but this is the idea.
Think of a genetic code as a cookbook. The recipes are all there but they won't feed you. Somebody actually has to take the recipe, grab the ingredients and make the food.
So, instead of having to inject insulin into a diabetic’s body, the body, once again, makes its own.
The body also needs to know HOW MUCH to make, otherwise you'll end up in The Story of the Magic Porridge Pot. Because insulin doesn't care, it will put away all the glucose it can find. So somebody has to say "enough, little pot."
That's where the enzyme glucokinase comes in. It helps sense how much glucose is in the blood.
If we go back to the cookbook example, you need to know how many people are coming for dinner. Otherwise you'll make too much or too little food.
Working together, insulin and glucokinase can keep blood glucose levels in balance.
Diabetic dogs treated with a single administration of gene therapy (an injection of modified viruses that carry the desired genes) showed good glucose control at all times, both when fasting and when fed, an improvement over the diabetic control of dogs given daily insulin injections. They experienced no episodes of hypoglycemia, even after exercise.
Quite beautiful, really. Gene therapy gets the body doing what it should have been doing in the first place.
Could that mean no more insulin injections for our dogs in near future? No more anxious monitoring of glucose levels? No more risk of hypoglycemic events? It certainly looks like it. Oh yeah, baby.
A cure for type 1 diabetes