Vic diabetes breakthrough may end insulin shots

Current diabetes treatments control blood glucose but don't prevent destruction of insulin cells.

Current diabetes treatments control blood glucose but don't prevent destruction of insulin cells.

Researchers are a step closer to a cure for type one diabetes, with a Melbourne institute finding a way to rewire insulin production in sufferers.

For type one diabetics, the immune system destroys pancreatic cells so they need to depend on daily insulin injections.

But the Baker Heart and Diabetes Institute has found two drugs that can regenerate insulin production in damaged pancreatic cells.

The medications, already approved in the Us to treat rare cancers, can return insulin production in as little as 48 hours.

Current pharmaceutical options for diabetes treatment control blood glucose levels but they don’t prevent, stop or reverse the destruction of insulin-producing cells.

Lead researcher Sam El-Osta said it could be the first disease-modifying treatment for type one diabetes.

It is also a promising solution for Australians living with insulin-dependent diabetes, which is about 30 per cent of those with type two diabetes.

“We consider this regenerative approach an important advance towards clinical development,” El-Osta said.

“Until now, the regenerative process has been incidental and lacking confirmation.”

Australian Diabetes Society chief executive Sof Andrikopoulos said the finding was remarkable.

“The way people with type one diabetes stay alive and manage their glucose is either injecting themselves three or four times a day with needles or they’re on an insulin pump,” he said.

“The significance of this research is that you get rid of all of that.”

Quality of life would improve for those with diabetes, he said.

“It removes a significant part of that burden,” he said.

“It may mean that instead of injecting yourself four times a day, you may only need to inject yourself once a day.

“But it may get to the point where you don’t need to do any of that and you have, for all intents and purposes, cured diabetes.”

Diabetes Australia welcomed the research, published in the scientific Nature journal on Tuesday, describing it as encouraging for people who have type one diabetes.

“Research remains critical in the fight to combat the diabetes epidemic,” a spokeswoman said.

“It creates possibilities, changes lives and gives hope to the millions of Australians living with, and at risk of developing, diabetes.”

Close to two million Australians have diabetes, with almost 120,000 developing the condition in the past year.

More than 530 million adults are living with diabetes across the globe. That is expected to rise to 643 million by 2030.


Topics: diabetes
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