Scientists Are Trying to Reverse Diabetes With Gene Editing was reported by Emily Mullen for Medium/One Zero/ReEngineering Life, 4 May 2020.  This is the stuff of the future! A new technique involving CRISPR could eliminate the need for insulin shots

CRISPR = a technology that can be used to edit genes and, as such, will likely change the world. The essence of CRISPR is simple: it’s a way of finding a specific bit of DNA inside a cell. After that, the next step in CRISPR gene editing is usually to alter that piece of DNA. … CRISPR has made it cheap and easy.

Researchers at Washington University in St. Louis, where some of the first of these transplants occurred, recently used the gene-editing technology CRISPR to correct stem cells from diabetic patients and turn them into fully functioning beta cells. After transferring the edited cells into mice with diabetes, the animals’ blood sugar normalized. The results were published in the journal Science Translational Medicine on April 22.

Though the work was done using cells from patients with a rare form of the disease (Wolfram’s disease), the authors think the approach could eventually be used to treat Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes.  “We were able to reverse the diabetes in the mice in about a week,” Jeffrey Millman, an assistant professor of medicine and biomedical engineering, tells OneZero. 

It’s a complicated treatment that combines two experimental technologies. The first U.S. clinical trial that uses induced pluripotent stem cells just got underway in December, and studies using CRISPR in people are still in their early stages.

Scientists Are Trying to Reverse Diabetes With Gene Editing


Deleting Gene in Mice Prevents T1D from Developing was reported by Sara Seitz for InsulinNation.com, 5 May 2020. 

Researchers at the University of Wisconsin-Madison made a surprising discovery recently when they deleted the IRE1-alpha gene in mice destined to develop type 1 diabetes. Deleting this gene caused the beta cells in the mice to de-differentiate or revert to an earlier, less specific functional stage. After a short period of hyperglycemia, these beta cells re-differentiated back into healthy, insulin-producing, mature cells.

Surprisingly, this short reversal in function was enough to prevent immune activation against the cells, thereby preventing autoimmune diabetes from ever developing.  Assistant Professor Feyza Engin, the lead author of the study, which was published in Cell Metabolism says, “We are just unveiling novel preventive and therapeutic strategies against T1D that are focusing/targeting pancreatic beta cells. Our discovery identifies a therapeutic window where beta cell identity and function can be compromised for a short period of time during the early stages of the disease to induce immune tolerance and ultimately prevent the disease. Thus, this opens up exciting new opportunities to explore the right genetic and/or pharmacological tools to modulate ER stress in beta cells to be used alone or in combination with other immune-modulating strategies to prevent or treat T1D in humans.”

Read more: Deleting Gene in Mice Prevents T1D from Developing


Maybe coronavirus’s aggressiveness could be changed by adding or subtracting sugar molecules from its spike protein was reported by Adam M. Brufsky, professor of medicine and medical oncologist at the University of Pittsburgh for TheConversation.com, 7 May 2020.

Many physicians noticed that people with high blood sugar, not only those with a history of diabetes but also unexplained new diabetes, were showing up in the hospital with the novel coronavirus. This indicated to me that something could be going on with the addition of sugar molecules to the virus, or the receptor it latches onto to infect cells, that influenced the severity of the disease.

These coronaviruses do mutate quite a bit. A group of dedicated scientists who are members of a research organization called GISAID have been doing this, and another group called Nextstrain has created a website to allow the public to see the mutations in real time. It is open source, meaning anyone can use it.

What I found (like many others) when looking through this database was that there appeared to be a common mutation in the the now well-recognized spikes that cover the surface of the virus.. The virus has specific areas where sugar is added when it replicates in cells, and the mutation appeared to increase the likelihood that a sugar molecule would be added to one of these areas. Similar mutations in other coronavirus spike proteins affected the ability of those viruses to fuse with cells.

These coronaviruses do mutate quite a bit. A group of dedicated scientists who are members of a research organization called GISAID have been doing this, and another group called Nextstrain has created a website to allow the public to see the mutations in real time. It is open source, meaning anyone can use it.

What I found (like many others) when looking through this database was that there appeared to be a common mutation in the the now well-recognized spikes that cover the surface of the virus.. The virus has specific areas where sugar is added when it replicates in cells, and the mutation appeared to increase the likelihood that a sugar molecule would be added to one of these areas. Similar mutations in other coronavirus spike proteins affected the ability of those viruses to fuse with cells.

What was interesting was that this mutation, called D614G, seemed to be more common on the East Coast of the United States than on the West Coast, and the disease seemed to be more severe on the East Coast.

Read more:  Coronavirus and Sugar Molecules

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