The Type 1 diabetes is one of the most discouraging disease.
Although we have the availability of synthetic insulin and increasingly sophisticated monitoring technology, it is yet a condition that requires incessant vigilance. The diabetics must constantly track their blood sugar levels and re-evaluate their drug dosage. None the less, despite the management, bad days remain almost inevitable. If we intake large amount of insulin, and you can spiral into a hypoglycemic delirium. Take lesser & your glucose levels will rise, filling the body with dangerous levels of Ketones.
Whats come up recently?
Possible cures routinely come up only to fade from view, their benefits just fall short of the simple efficacy of an Insulin injection. Recently, though, in the field of synthetic biology—a hybrid discipline that aims to construct or redesign biological components and systems—has shown the potential to produce a number of treatments. The solutions remain speculative, but hope is all we look out for during such phases.
John Glass, A researcher working on one such new effort, knows how false hope can be maddening, having lived with the disease for decades. Type 1 diabetes, in theory, is quite easy to solve, not practically, he said. All said than done, he still takes insulin daily.
There are ways to re-engineer the genomes of skin bacteria in ways that would allow to execute functions that the diabetic’s bodies no longer can. Whether or not that ultimately works, synthetic biology will continue to provide ways around problems that have long been insurmountable for researchers.
Glass, Explains the Type 1 diabeties; At core, It is an Auto-immune disease, one that results from a biological glitch that leads the body to attack the insulin-producing beta cells of its own pancreas. Beta cells serve 2 primary functions in a healthy organism.
• They detect blood glucose levels within the body.
• When those levels begin to rise, the cells secrete insulin. The autoimmune kills off the beta cells, leaving the body with no way to process the carbohydrates it consumes.
Finally, the researchers behind this sought to re-engineer human embryonic kidney cells to copy the functions of the pancreatic beta cells that immune systems of those with diabetes destroy. These new cells were injected into diabetic mice, resulting in a success.
Can Synthetic Biology Finally Cure Diabetes?
It is the autonomous, or “closed loop,” quality that’s most exciting here that offers the potential to stabilize the body without the regular injections and blood sugar checks. True closed-loops recreate the healthy body through natural processes, just like these modified kidney cells that automatically distributes insulin in response to blood sugar fluctuations. Such systems have long been the holy grail for diabetic researchers.
Medical technologists too have been working long on devices that would achieve similar results by more mechanical means. MedTronic (recently received FDA approval) for what it calls a “closed loop” combination of a digital glucose sensor and an insulin pump that it has plans to roll out later this year. It can be a game-changing device, but it still demands involvement from the user, who must feed it the required information about the carbohydrate intake, regularly recalibrate the sensor & attach the sensors and insulin pump to their body. By comparison, synthetic biology promises to be a truly hands-off solution.
The diabetic body’s seemingly irreversible autoimmune response is the bane because the mimetic replacements resemble the natural beta cells, hence the immune system still recognizes them as targets and eventually kills them off. Although they work under experimental conditions for a few weeks, their effectiveness fades with time, as Glass and other researchers explained. “We yet do not know how to overcome that hurdle”
Chad Cowan, director of the diabetes program at the Harvard Stem Cell Institute, told us that the issue has been extremely difficult to resolve.
“Over the course of the last two years, we’ve … tried to talk to every immunologist and every person who works on autoimmunity, particularly if they have any focus on type 1 diabetes,” he said.
“Our overall assessment is that there isn’t an easy solution, at least in terms of modulating the immune system.”
It’s here that the real promise of Glass’ proposal reveals itself. He thinks he’s found a solution for the problem that would allow the body to autonomously produce insulin as needed & without risk of disruption.
Glass’s own professional involvement in the field began a few years ago when he met Alberto Hayek, a diabetes researcher and emeritus professor from University of California–San Diego.
Hayek introduced Glass to the work of a dermatologist named Richard Gallo, who discovered a beneficial bacteria living deep in the layers of our skin that seem to be overlooked by the immune system.
Would it be right to harvest and modify these microbes so that they function like Instead of making new beta cells that will face rejection ,they rather take something that the body still accepts and make it to act like a beta cell.
It seemed very feasible to Glass. Also, he might be able to “take those cells from any given person & put in the machinery beta cells?
that would allow those cells now to sense blood glucose, there in and amongst the capillaries that are in our skin.” And since the immune system usually passes over these particular microbes, it might just let the newly engineered cells go about their business. Further, We also know that if you put bacteria on your skin, they very quickly make it into the deep layers, meaning it could potentially be delivered via a nonintrusive application, such as personalized skin cream.
Glass’s work is still in its initial stage. He along with colleagues at JCVI are seeking funding to conduct experiments in mice.
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