A cure for diabetes may be in sight, according to a new study.
In what is being hailed as the biggest step forward in the development of a treatment for the condition, which affects 1.4million Britons, experts have found a way to reverse it using a form of gene therapy.
Although experiments have so far been carried out successfully only on animals, scientists say the breakthrough paves the way for trials in humans.
The Korean and Canadian experts cured rats and mice of diabetes by replacing malfunctioning genes which stop diabetics producing insulin, the hormone that regulates blood sugar levels.
They genetically altered an aden-ovirus – a type of germ which causes chest infections – so that it could carry a gene that releases insulin directly to the liver and pancreas.
The scientists, whose research is published today in the scientific journal Nature, hoped the gene would replace the malfunctioning one that caused diabetes.
They were amazed when a simple injection meant the animals, which were all suffering from the more serious type 1 diabetes, went into remission without any noticeable side effects.
They continued to produce insulin for another eight months after the injection, the scientists from Yonsei University in Seoul and Calgary University report.
Though they stressed it was too early to say if the therapy would work in humans, they hailed it as a significant step forward.
‘This gene therapy may have potential therapeutic value for the cure of auto-immune diabetes in humans,’ they said.
Dr Jerrold Olefsky, a diabetes expert at California University, said,
‘This represents a definite step forward and offers a good example of how fundamental research can be applied to problems of human health.’
Originally published at Daily Mail
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