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Destroying Diabetes?

Diabetics could one day live lives free of needles and implants thanks to a new treatment that can prompt the body to generate new insulin-producing cells. Researchers Aaron Vinik of Eastern Virginia Medical School and Lawrence Rosenberg of McGill University discovered that a fragment of a protein known as INGAP stimulates cells in the pancreas of adult animals to develop into “islet” cells that make insulin in response to blood sugar. In animal experiments, a few weeks of daily injections of the protein segment yielded normal blood sugar and insulin levels. GMP of Fort Lauderdale, FL, which licensed the technology, has started human trials in patients with both Type 1 (juvenile) and Type 2 (adult onset) diabetes. The treatment could become available in about five years. One question that remains is whether Type 1 diabetics, whose bodies have destroyed their own islet cells, would be able to sustain the new cells without immune suppression.

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