Scots scientists in diabetes breakthrough

Insulin Bubble

THOUSANDS of diabetics could be effectively “cured” thanks to a major breakthrough by Scottish scientists.

Patients could now have an islet cell transplant to prevent life-threatening complications including seizures.

The breakthrough enables scientists to take cells from the pancreas and change their function to produce insulin.

The research was carried out by the University of Aberdeen, the Medical Research Council Centre for Regenerative Medicine at the University of Edinburgh and the Scottish National Blood Transfusion Service.

Islet cells – which occur naturally in the pancreas – produce insulin, which enables the body to store glucose. However, not enough of these cells can be provided by a single donor, so patients can wait months before a second pancreas becomes available.

The breakthrough, published in the journal Diabetes, could enable pancreatic cells – other than islets – to be developed for transplant.

The effects would also be longer lasting than at present as more cells would be transplanted.
Islet cell transplants are given to Type 1 diabetics, who are unable to make insulin and are dependent on insulin injections.

John Casey, of the University of Edinburgh and also lead clinician for the National Islet Transplant Programme in Scotland, said: “There is a shortage of organ donors, which is not helped by the need for two pancreases to be donated to treat each diabetic patient.

“Developing previously unusable cells to produce insulin means that fewer donors would be needed, which would make a huge difference to patients waiting for transplants operations.”

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Potential Diabetes Breakthrough

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HSCI researchers discover hormone that spurs beta cell production

Researchers at the Harvard Stem Cell Institute (HSCI) have discovered a hormone that holds promise for a dramatically more effective treatment of type 2 diabetes, a metabolic illness afflicting an estimated 26 million Americans. The researchers believe that the hormone might also have a role in treating type 1, or juvenile, diabetes.

Click here to watch a video about this breakthrough.

The work was published today by the journal Cell as an early on-line release. It is scheduled for the May 9 print edition of the journal.

The hormone, called betatrophin, causes mice to produce insulin-secreting pancreatic beta cells at up to 30 times the normal rate. The new beta cells only produce insulin when called for by the body, offering the potential for the natural regulation of insulin and a great reduction in the complications associated with diabetes, the leading medical cause of amputations and non-genetic loss of vision.

The researchers who discovered betatrophin, HSCI Co-Director Doug Melton and postdoctoral fellow Peng Yi, caution that much work remains to be done before it could be used as a treatment in humans. But the results of their work, which was supported in large part by a federal research grant, already have attracted the attention of drug manufacturers.

“If this could be used in people,” said Melton, Harvard’s Xander University Professor and co-chair of the University’s Department of Stem Cell and Regenerative Biology, “it could eventually mean that instead of taking insulin injections three times a day, you might take an injection of this hormone once a week or once a month, or in the best case maybe even once a year.”

Type 2 diabetes, a disease associated with the national obesity epidemic, is usually caused by a combination of excess weight and lack of exercise. It causes patients to slowly lose beta cells and the ability to produce adequate insulin. One recent study has estimated that diabetes treatment and complications cost the United States $218 billion annually, or about 10 percent of the nation’s entire health bill.

“Our idea here is relatively simple,” Melton said. “We would provide this hormone, the type 2 diabetic will make more of their own insulin-producing cells, and this will slow down, if not stop, the progression of their diabetes. I’ve never seen any treatment that causes such an enormous leap in beta cell replication.”

Though Melton sees betatrophin primarily as a treatment for type 2 diabetes, he believes it might play a role in the treatment of type 1 diabetes as well, perhaps boosting the number of beta cells and slowing the progression of that autoimmune disease when it’s first diagnosed.

“We’ve done the work in mice,” Melton said, “but of course we’re not interested in curing mice of diabetes, and we now know the gene is a human gene. We’ve cloned the human gene and, moreover, we know that the hormone exists in human plasma; betatrophin definitely exists in humans.”

While Melton was clear about the need for more research before the hormone could be available as a drug, he also said that betatrophin could be in human clinical trials within three to five years, an extremely short time in the normal course of drug discovery and development.

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via Harvard University
 

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Breakthrough nanoparticle halts multiple sclerosis

New nanotechnology can be used for Type 1 diabetes, food allergies and asthma

  • New nanoparticle tricks and resets immune system in mice with MS
  • First MS approach that doesn’t suppress immune system
  • Clinical trial for MS patients shows why nanoparticle is best option
  • Nanoparticle now being tested in Type 1 diabetes and asthma

In a breakthrough for nanotechnology and multiple sclerosis, a biodegradable nanoparticle turns out to be the perfect vehicle to stealthily deliver an antigen that tricks the immune system into stopping its attack on myelin and halt a model of relapsing remitting multiple sclerosis (MS) in mice, according to new Northwestern Medicine research.

The new nanotechnology also can be applied to a variety of immune-mediated diseases including Type 1 diabetes, food allergies and airway allergies such as asthma.

In MS, the immune system attacks the myelin membrane that insulates nerves cells in the brain, spinal cord and optic nerve. When the insulation is destroyed, electrical signals can’t be effectively conducted, resulting in symptoms that range from mild limb numbness to paralysis or blindness. About 80 percent of MS patients are diagnosed with the relapsing remitting form of the disease.

The Northwestern nanotechnology does not suppress the entire immune system as do current therapies for MS, which make patients more susceptible to everyday infections and higher rates of cancer. Rather, when the nanoparticles are attached to myelin antigens and injected into the mice, the immune system is reset to normal. The immune system stops recognizing myelin as an alien invader and halts its attack on it.

“This is a highly significant breakthrough in translational immunotherapy,” said Stephen Miller, a corresponding author of the study and the Judy Gugenheim Research Professor of Microbiology-Immunology at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine. “The beauty of this new technology is it can be used in many immune-related diseases. We simply change the antigen that’s delivered.”

“The holy grail is to develop a therapy that is specific to the pathological immune response, in this case the body attacking myelin,” Miller added. “Our approach resets the immune system so it no longer attacks myelin but leaves the function of the normal immune system intact.”

The nanoparticle, made from an easily produced and already FDA-approved substance, was developed by Lonnie Shea, professor of chemical and biological engineering at Northwestern’s McCormick School of Engineering and Applied Science.

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via Northwestern University
 

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