• A new experiment in genetic engineering makes a potential breakthrough in the treatment of diabetes.
  • The new treatment needs no pharmaceuticals only blue light to stimulate the pancreatic cells to produce insulin.
  • The study results show that blood-sugar levels decrease in mice as a result of the treatment.


About the Research

The research team working on this diabetes research comes from Tufts University. Their findings are available through the ACS Synthetic Biology journal.


Diabetes and Light Sensitive Cells

Diabetes is a common illness that affects around 30 million people in the USA alone. Because of this, there is a big need to find an effective treatment that will help the patients lead normal lives. Until now the treatment for the illness was either an injection of insulin or the use of pharmaceuticals.

The researchers working on this project want to see if it is possible to stimulate pancreas cells to produce insulin. However, they want to do this with the use of blue light and optogenetics and not conventional medication. Furthermore, such advancement will help millions of people and it will decrease their spending on medicine.

The researchers use modified pancreatic beta-cells that they insert into the skin of diabetic mice. Because of genetic engineering, the cells become light-sensitive. That means that they respond to light as a stimulus that changes how they work. In this case, the light stimulation helps the cells produce more insulin.

The results of the experiment show positive outcomes for the health of diabetic mice. That is, the treatment was effective in controlling the blood-sugar levels and reducing hyperglycemia.

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  • Even though the experiment was a success with mice the entire procedure needs testing on humans. Such trials will show us how effective the method can be and what the potential side effects are.