GOLDEN VALLEY, Minn. – Cells found in the body may be the key to curing diabetes in the future, according to new research.
Since he was 10-years-old, Drew Reiter has been testing his blood sugar and giving himself four to five insulin shots a day.
Reiter has Type 1 diabetes, meaning his body does not make insulin to regulate his blood sugar.
“I feel like I’m pretty on top of things but it’s still hard to regulate,” he said.
Now, there’s hope of a possible cure.
A new study out of Columbia University Medical Center has found that cells in the small intestine can produce insulin and regulate blood sugar effectively when researchers turn off the FOX01 gene in those cells.
“The exciting aspect of this work is that we have a single target gene against which we can hopefully make drugs that control this whole process,” said Dr. Domenico Accili, the study’s senior author.
Once a drug is developed to turn off the gene, researchers will likely test it in conjunction with insulin injections first.
“It could be, that when push comes to shove, we cannot completely cure the disease but we can provide a drug that would, for example, decrease the number of times patients need to take insulin,” said Dr. Accili.
Officials say the ultimate goal is to find a cure.
For Reiter, who just recently became a new dad, finally having cells in his own body that produce insulin would mean stable health for him in the future.
The latest research was tested first in mice and was done on human cells in a lab.
Accili said it could now take up to two years to develop a drug to turn off the gene in the cells.
The next step will then be human clinical trials.
More time will be needed to test safety.
If it’s successful, the treatment could be available to people with Type 1 or Type 2 diabetes.