Statistics show that as of today, there are already more than 29 million people in the United States alone have been diagnosed with diabetes. It is also classified to be the seventh-leading cause of death in the country.
Diabetes is a condition wherein the pancreas is either unable to produce enough hormone insulin, the body’s cells do not effectively respond to hormone, or both. As a result, blood glucose levels rise higher than normal – known as hyperglycemia. This can cause a number of complications such as stroke, heart disease, and nerve damage.
A proof-of-principle study that was published in the journal Diabetes, revealed how they were able to reduce blood glucose levels in diabetic rats using a common bacteria that was found in the human gut. The researchers engineered a common strain of “friendly” human gut bacteria called Lactobacillus to secrete Glucagon-like peptide 1 (GLP-1) – a hormone that releases insulin in response to food.
The researchers did the study by each day for a span of 90 days, the team orally administered the modified probiotic to a group of diabetic rats. They monitored its effects on blood glucose levels, comparing the outcomes with diabetic rats that did not receive it. Upon the completion of their study, the researchers found out that the rats who have received the modified probiotic had blood glucose levels up to 30% lower than those who did not receive any of it.
On giving the modified probiotic to healthy rats, however, the team found that it did not appear to affect blood glucose levels.
The team says that they now plan to test higher doses of the engineering probiotic in diabetic rats in order to see whether it can completely reverse the condition. They are also working with a biopharmaceutical company to get the probiotic made into a pill for human use. If successful, the researchers say it would be likely a diabetic would take the pill each morning to at least help manage their condition.
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