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Gene Therapy

Gene Therapy Cures Diabetic Mice

20 years, 4 months ago

10430  0
Posted on Dec 07, 2003, 2 a.m. By Bill Freeman

A new type of gene therapy that transforms cells in the liver into insulin-producing cells can temporarily cure diabetes, say researchers from Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, Texas. Dr Lawrence Chan and colleagues injected diabetic mice with a gene called NeuroD coupled with another gene that produces a hormone that stimulates the growth of islet cells.

A new type of gene therapy that transforms cells in the liver into insulin-producing cells can temporarily cure diabetes, say researchers from Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, Texas. Dr Lawrence Chan and colleagues injected diabetic mice with a gene called NeuroD coupled with another gene that produces a hormone that stimulates the growth of islet cells. Together, the gene and the hormone converted liver cells into islets - clusters of pancreatic cells that contain insulin-producing beta cells. Results showed that diabetes was completely cured in the mice for 120 days or longer after they were given the gene therapy. The next step for Chan and his colleagues is to find out whether or not the procedure is safe in humans, if so Chan believes that it could be used to treat both type I and type II diabetes. He also suggests that the technique may also make it possible to give patients islet cell transplants with cells generated from their own liver cells, thus removing the need for performing gene therapy on the patient. To do this doctors would extract cells from the diabetic patient, treat them with the NeuroD gene until they transformed into islet cells, and then transplant them back into the patient.

SOURCE/REFERENCE: Nature Medicine 2003;10.1038/nm.
Published online before print 21st April 2003.

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