Madrid, Feb 8 — Researchers cured type 1 diabetes among dogs by using only a single session of gene therapy, potentially paving the way for treatment of diabetic patients.
Fatima Bosch, from the Universitat Autonoma deBarcelona (UAB), who led the study and obtained excellent results for the first time, points out: “This study is the first to demonstrate a long-term cure for diabetes in a large animal model using gene therapy.”
Type 1 diabetes, also called juvenile diabetes or insulin-dependent diabetes, is a disorder of the body’s immune system.
The finding showed that after this treatment, the dogs recovered their health and no longer showed symptoms of the disease. In some cases, monitoring for over four years also bore out the same results, the journal Diabetes reports.
The therapy is minimally invasive and consists of a single session of various injections in the animal’s rear legs using simple needles that are commonly used in cosmetic treatments, according to an UAB statement.
These injections introduce gene therapy vectors, with a dual objective: to express the insulin gene, on the one hand, and that of glucokinase, on the other.
Glucokinase is an enzyme that regulates the uptake of glucose from the blood.
When both genes act simultaneously they function as a “glucose sensor”, which automatically regulates the uptake of glucose from the blood, thus reducing diabetic hyperglycemia (the excess of blood sugar associated with the disease).