Gene therapy cures dogs of type 1 diabetes

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Diabetes is characterized by high blood sugar. The cause of high blood sugar differs for people with type 1 versus type 2 diabetes. For type 1 diabetics, the pancreas produces little or no insulin, the hormone responsible for lowering blood sugar. For type 2 diabetics, tissues in the body are not responsive to insulin, termed insulin resistance, resulting in persistently elevated blood sugar. Muscle tissue is the main site of glucose disposal in the body and therefore, the main site of insulin's action.

Researchers from Universitat Autonoma de Barcelona in Spain had developed a successful technique of reversing diabetes in mouse models by creating a glucose sensor in the animal's muscle. They accomplished this through gene therapy to induce the expression of insulin along with the glucose-sensing enzyme glucokinase. In mice, this treatment lowered blood sugar by increasing uptake of glucose into muscle tissue.

In a new study published online in Diabetes, the authors report using the same technique to lower blood sugar in type 1 diabetic dogs! The genes for glucokinase and insulin became incorporated into the animal's DNA and the technique was effective for over 4 years after treatment. This was reportedly the first instance of this technique being successful in the chronic treatment of diabetes in a large animal model. In fact, they state that the animals no longer needed medical treatment for their diabetes and did not experience pathologically lowered blood sugar when they exercised.

More research is required to determine if a similar treatment would work in humans.


Callejas D, Mann CJ, Ayuso E, Lage R, Grifoll I, Roca C, Andaluz A, Ruiz-de Gopegui R, Montane J, Munoz S, Ferre T, Haurigot V, Zhou S, Ruberte J, Mingozzi F, High K, Garcia F, Bosch F. Treatment of Diabetes and Long-term Survival Following Insulin and Glucokinase Gene Therapy. Diabetes. Epub ahead of print. doi:10.2337/db12-1113

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I have had type 1 diabeties since I was 15, I am now 25. I presume more testing will be carried out but when will this become an option for suffers?

Is that a rhetorical question or did you really think someone might have an answer?

By dude...really? (not verified) on 21 Feb 2013 #permalink

Hello, we have seen some good things on national Geography and Discovery Science. We have also heard of cloning. There are a lot of study being made on animals how they behave, eat, their life studies, genes, etc. Can you ask your scientist to make a study if they can change or try to study if a carnivorus(meat eating) animal can be made to eat herbivirous(leaves, grass,etc) food. See during civilization people lived in cold countries or in deserts where they had to eat meat for their living but in countries like India where the weather is good for farming people eat and prefer vegitrian food. You don't need to go in the study of genes but there are some simple ways I know how an animal(carnivirous) can be made to eat vegitrian food. OK, have a nice day.

Really if therapy can prevent a diabetic from further damage, then its really great and now diabetic save from taking the insulin.

By Diabetes treat… (not verified) on 25 Mar 2013 #permalink

Cinnamon is said to be good for...

By epoksi boya (not verified) on 16 Apr 2013 #permalink

Are there human trial studies to share results?

By Thomas O'Shea (not verified) on 23 Apr 2013 #permalink

There are plenty of owners with dogs and cats that have real diabetes--in that, not artificially induced. It would be great to see them use these pets with their failed auto-immune systems to see if their cure works.

By David Shapiro (not verified) on 19 Jul 2013 #permalink

My dog is a 6 year old westie has IMHA and diabetes.
she has been getting UTI every 2 to 3 months is there anything out there to help her thank you