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article imageGene therapy diabetes cure developed

By Tim Sandle     Feb 16, 2013 in Science
A gene therapy treatment has been developed which can cure type 1 diabetes in dogs. The newly developed treatment has been used for the first time in a large animal. This may lead to the development of a cure for this type of diabetes in people.
Scientists developed the new treatment by undertaking studies in a group of beagles aged between six months and one years old, according to Pop Sci. The beagles were induced with type 1 diabetes through a process of injecting viruses carrying genes for insulin and glucokinase, an enzyme involved in processing glucose, directly into the muscles.
Once the dogs had developed diabetes, the researchers proceeded with the gene therapy treatment for half of the dogs. Gene therapy is the use of DNA as a pharmaceutical agent to treat disease. It derives its name from the idea that DNA can be used to supplement or alter genes within an individual's cells as a therapy to treat disease.
For the dogs administered with the the treatment, after a period of time it was found that the genes had been incorporated into the DNA of the dogs. From this point, the dogs were able to regulate their own blood sugar levels without medical help. A short while later, the dogs were allowed to move around and no longer experienced any episodes of hypoglycemia.
For the group of dogs that did not receive the gene therapy treatment, this group continued to show symptoms of diabetes.
The researchers plan to carry out more tests in dogs and then, should any safety issues be allayed, carry out trials in people. Although this may be the starting point for a new cure for humans, it could be that the treatment will not work in the same way, according to New Scientist.
The findings have been published online in the journal Diabetes.
More about Diabetes, Dogs, Type 1 diabetes, Gene therapy
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