Could this be a cure for type 2 diabetes?
Scientists have made a breakthrough in research around type 2 diabetes that could change everything...
image Towfiqu Barbhuiya on Unsplash (additional design by Bertie Warner)
words Megan Wallace
Over 4.9 million people in the UK have diabetes, with this number predicted to rise to 5.5 million people by 2030 and while it can be managed with insulin injections or antidiabetic medication, it can still lead to a number of serious complications, including sight loss and amputations. In simple terms, diabetes is a metabolic disorder which causes your blood sugar level to be too high and up until now science has failed to provide a cure. However, a recent breakthrough could be the answer many have been waiting for.
In research published in the journal Cell on 4 August, researchers at University of California San Diego made a major discovery in a lab experiment ultilising mice that could help treat type 2 diabetes as well as well as other chronic illnesses such as Crohn's disease.
Poor gut health has been linked to type 2 diabetes but, even for non-gut-related conditions, altering gut microflora may help with a range of physical symptoms. As a result, live bacterial therapeutics (LBTs) are being explored by scientists and involve the engineering of bacterial hosts to make the microbiome healthier.
Traditionally, efforts in the field of LBTs have focussed on cultivating strains of E. coli but they haven't been able to compete with the gut bacteria in a functioning body. However, the new experiment used E. coli from human and mice microbiomes while adding the protein BSH. This mix allowed the bacteria to survive and thrive in the gut and improved insulin sensitivity in the mice used as part of the experiment.
“We know E. coli can pick up pathogenic genes and cause disease, and now we are just realizing if we put a beneficial gene in, it can help us to treat chronic diseases, maybe even cure some of them," explained Professor Zarrinpar, the author of the study.