Probiotic pill could bypass injections in treating diabetes

Mon, 02 Feb 2015
Researchers have engineered a probiotic pill that uses an insulin stimulating hormone to reduce blood sugar levels, marking a potential new injection-free diabetes treatment.

Scientists at Cornell University, New York managed to reduce blood glucose levels in diabetic rats using a common bacteria in the gut called lactobacillus.

This probiotic was then found to secrete a glucagon-like peptide (GLP-1) which stimulated insulin production in the intestines.

During a 90-day period, the research team orally administered lactobacillus to the diabetic rats. They determined the rats had to up 30 per cent lower blood glucose without the need for insulin injections.

By modifying the probiotic stimulating cells in the upper intestines to secret insulin - in the same of the pancreas of non-diabetics - researchers made the cells act like pancreatic beta cells, balancing blood glucose levels.

Lead author John March explained that the pill transferred blood sugar control from the pancreas to the intestines of the diabetic rats. This reduced blood sugar levels in the same time for diabetic rats as in normal rats.

"The amount of time to reduce glucose levels following a meal is the same as in a normal rat, and it is matched to the amount of glucose in the blood, just as it would be with a normal-functioning pancreas," March said.

The results from March’s team indicate that a treatment for diabetes could be developed that does not require the need for insulin injections.

The results of the study were published in the journal Diabetes.
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