A team has recently engineered a bacterium to make intestinal cells behave like pancreatic cells, causing them to produce insulin and consequently decrease blood sugar levels. In the latest study, rats where fed this chemical, and it was found to trigger certain cells in the gut to behave like pancreatic cells. Moreover, this bacterium, which can be found in some probiotic yoghurts, does not have to be injected to work properly and it could even potentially be taken in the form of a pill; also it has not been shown to affect the cells’ normal functions, meaning it should be absolutely safe to use.
This cure appears to have potential, and it would be marvellous if it could become the cure for type 1 diabetes. However, at this moment it has only been shown to “replace ∼25–33% of the insulin capacity of non-diabetic healthy rats”, and it is still in development so it may take many years for this to be widely available.
New Scientist, edition no. 3008, ’60 Seconds’ section- ‘Bugs tackle diabetes’