UT Health cures diabetic mice without side effects

Researchers at the University of Texas Health Science Center have attempted to eliminate insulin shots for those with type 2 diabetes, focusing on working with mice.

The approach increased the types of pancreatic cells responsible for secreting insulin in mice. While receiving a U.S. patent in January, the method uses the approach of gene transfer, which uses a virus as a carrier to introduce genes to the pancreas to activate the production of digestive enzymes to make insulin.

"A major problem we have in the field of Type 1 diabetes is hypoglycemia (low blood sugar)," said Bruno Doiron, PhD, assistant professor of medicine at UT Health. "The gene transfer we propose is remarkable because the altered cells match the characteristics of beta cells. Insulin is only released in response to glucose. We don't need to replicate all of the insulin-making function of beta cells. Only 20 percent restoration of this capacity is sufficient for a cure of Type 1."

In testing on mice, the researchers tried to regulate blood sugar, showing an improvement of current insulin therapy and medications. In fact, the approach cured diabetes in mice.

“It worked perfectly," said Doiron. "We cured mice for one year without any side effects. That's never been seen. But it's a mouse model, so caution is needed. We want to bring this to large animals that are closer to humans in physiology of the endocrine system."