By using an engineered strain of lactobacillus (human probiotics common in the gut of the body) that would secrete a Glucagen-like peptide (GPL-1), researchers saw that the engineered probiotic created up to a 30 percent lower high blood glucose in rats with diabetes. The team orally administered the engineered probiotics for 90 days to the rats.
The results reflected were a proof of principle and further testing with higher doses will be conducted to see if it will result in a complete treatment for rats. This opens the door for testing and possible eventual treatment for humans.
John March, Professor of Biological and Environmental Engineering at Cornell University, was the paper’s senior author, and the results were published in the journal Diabetes.
The results of the study found that upper intestinal epithelial cells in rats with diabetes were converted into cells that acted very much like pancreatic beta cells, which monitor blood glucose levels and secrete insulin as needed to balance glucose levels in healthy individuals.
March stated, “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, just as it would with a normal-functioning pancreas.” March added, “It’s moving the center of glucose control from the pancreas to the upper intestine.” As well, it replaces the insulin capacity in diabetic rats, and researchers found no change in blood glucose levels when administered to healthy rats. “If the rat is managing its glucose, it doesn’t need more insulin,” March stated.
As further testing is completed and results are positive, human patients would likely take a pill each morning to help control their diabetes.
Licensing for the research was provided by the Bio-Pancreate, a subsidiary of Cortendo AB, a biopharmaceutical company incorporated in Sweden and based in Radnor, Pennsylvania, which is working to get the therapy into production for human use.