By Charlie G ❘ 2013

Continuing with this new section I’ve added to this website dedicated to scientific advances to cure diabetes, I will write today about an amazing news from February 2013.

The research is being carried out by researchers from the Autonomous University of Barcelona (UAB), the Center for Animal Biotechnology and Gene Therapy (CBATEG) in Bellaterra, Ciber network for metabolic diseases, Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia and the Howard Hughes Medical Institute in Philadelphia, to try to find a cure for type 1 diabetes.

Apparently these researchers were able to completely cure type 1 diabetes in dogs by a single gene therapy session. It’s something they had already achieved with mice a few years ago, but now they wanted to apply it to larger animals, and the result has been positively pleasant.

Picture of dogs cured of type 1 diabetesFour years ago a viral vector with curing genes was administered to diabetic dogs whose pancreas were not working. After four years the dogs are perfectly healthy and have not needed more insulin injections, nor do they have any side effects, even in weight.

Fatima Bosch, professor at the UAB and director of the Center for Animal Biotechnology and Gene Therapy (CBATEG) said that “these processes are slow and expensive” and that it will take many other experiments with other animals (other breeds of dogs, pigs … ) before they can test on humans.

According to UAB’s professor the therapy is minimally invasive, consisting of a single session of repeated injections into the muscle of the hind legs of the dog. Two genes are inserted into the muscle of the animals using a new generation of highly safe vectors called AAV. These vectors are derived from non-pathogenic viruses which are widely used in gene therapy, and have already proven successful in treating various diseases.

The goals of this therapy are twofold: on one hand to express the insulin gene, and secondly the glucokinase. Glucokinase is an enzyme which acts as a regulator of glucose absorption from the blood. When the two genes act simultaneously both have the function of a “glucose sensor”, achieving an automatic regulation of blood glucose levels and reducing elevated blood glucose typical in diabetes. According to them, it is as if the pancreas is functioning properly.

The dogs treated with this single administration of the gene therapy showed at all times good glucose control, both fasting and after meals, with no hypoglycemias, even after exercise.

Congratulations to this team of Spanish-American scientists for being the first to get a long-term cure of type 1 diabetes on large animals with only one gene session.

But I prefer to be cautious, because I know of other cases that had already achieved something similar but in humans in 2008 and I haven’t heard anything else from that study.