By Lizzie Parry for MailOnline
Published: 05:34 EST, 3 February 2015
- Both types of diabetes could be CURED by a daily probiotic pill that ‘rewires’ the body, scientists claim
- Researchers at Cornell University discovered a probiotic, commonly found in the human gut, can ‘rewire’ the body to help combat diabetes
- It shifted control of blood sugar levels from pancreas to the upper intestine
- Pancreas controls glucose levels by secreting insulin in healthy people
- In diabetics the organ produces no insulin or not enough of the hormone
- Treatment lowered diabetic rats’ blood glucose levels by up to 30%
- Scientists say higher doses could reverse both type 1 and 2 diabetes
A simple probiotic pill that ‘rewires’ the body could cure both types of diabetes, scientists claim.
The new drug, which contains live bacteria from the human gut, has been shown to drastically lower blood sugar levels.
The pancreas is the organ which controls glucose levels in the body in healthy individuals.
But scientists at Cornell University in New York discovered a protein secreted from a human probiotic could shift that control from the pancreas to the upper intestine.
A daily probiotic pill could cure both types of diabetes scientists at Cornell University in New York hope adter they discovered a specific probiotic, commonly found in the human gut, could lower blood sugar levels in diabetic rats by up to 30 per cent
The breakthrough, which relies on ‘rewiring’ the body, could, the Cornell team hope, pave the way for a cure for both type 1 and 2 diabetes.
Professor John March, who led the new research, said their findings are a ‘proof of principle’ which could prove the first step to developing a cure.
He added: ‘If it works really well in people, it could be that they just take the pill and wouldn’t have to do anything else to control their diabetes. It’s likely, though, that it will be used in conjunction with some other treatment.’
Diabetes is a life-long health condition where there is too much glucose in the blood because the body cannot use it properly.
The pancreas of a diabetes sufferer is unable to produce any insulin, or not enough. It can also be the case the insulin produced is unable to work properly.
Insulin is essential to the body, acting as the key that unlocks the door to the body’s cells so glucose can enter and provide energy. With diabetes, the body is unable to use glucose as fuel and instead glucose builds up in the blood.
The researchers found the treatment ‘rewired’ the bodies of diabetic rats, shifting control of blood sugar levels from the pancreas, highlighted, to the upper intestine
Professor March’s team engineered a strain of lactobacillus, a human probiotic commonly found in the gut, to secrete a peptide – a hormone that releases insulin in response to food entering the body.
The scientists then gave a group of diabetic rats the probiotic in pill form for a period of 90 days. They monitored the rats’ blood glucose levels, comparing their findings with a control group of rats, not exposed to the probiotic pill.
The team found those rats given the new drug had blood glucose levels which were up to 30 per cent lower than those rats not given the modified probiotic treatment.
But another finding proved just as exciting.
The scientists found the cells in the upper intestine of the diabetic rats given the treatment were converted into cells that acted similarly to pancreatic cells – which in healthy people secrete insulin to maintain and balance glucose levels.
Professor March, from the university’s College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, said: ‘The amount of time to reduce glucose levels following a meal is the same as in a normal rat, and it is matched to the amount of glucose in the blood.
‘It is moving the center of glucose control from the pancreas to the upper intestine.’
Professor March said while the probiotic treatment replaced the insulin capacity in diabetic rats, in those free of the condition the researchers found no change in blood glucose levels, when the treatment was administered.
‘If the rat is managing its glucose, it doesn’t need more insulin,’ he added.
Professor March said the next step would be to test higher doses of the treatment to establish if the probiotic could reverse the condition altogether. He said if successful, the probiotic could then be made into a pill that diabetic patients would take each morning to help control their condition.
The probiotic lactobacillus is already used and approved as a treatment for diarrhea, irritable bowel syndrome and Crohn’s disease, among other conditions.
The study, published in the journal Diabetes, was funded by the National Institutes of Health and the Hartwell Foundation.