Gene Therapy Might Cure Type II Diabetes

Diabetes injection
Many diabetic patients need multiple insulin injections per day.

Studies on mice at the Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona (UAB) may lead to an injection that cures Type II Diabetes. This metabolic disorder affects overweight and obese people, due to insulin resistance. The body needs more and more insulin to maintain steady blood sugar, and the pancreas cannot keep up. Diabetes can lead to eye disease in the form of diabetic retinopathy. The chances of developing floaters, cataracts, nerve damage, and glaucoma are higher. Diabetes also causes stroke, amputations, coma, and even death.

The researchers, led by Professor Fátima Bosch, introduced into the mice a gene that creates the FGF21 protein.1 FGF21 is a major metabolic regulator. This protein stimulates the absorption of blood sugar in fatty tissues. The mice produced more FGF21, resulting in weight loss and lowered insulin resistance. Their fatty tissues shrank and were less inflamed. Even their livers had less inflammation and more protection against liver tumors.

This is the first time a single injection has had a long-term effect on Type II Diabetes. If this technique works on humans, the injection’s effects might last several years.

Editor’s Note: While researchers seek to perfect genetic modification for Type II Diabetes, we already have low-tech methods to maintain our health. A sensible diet and daily exercise has been proven to both manage and prevent Type II Diabetes in most people. Learn more about preventing disease and managing diabetes.

  1. EMBO Mol Med. 2018 Aug;10(8). pii: e8791. doi: 10.15252/emmm.201708791. FGF21 gene therapy as treatment for obesity and insulin resistance. Jimenez V. et. al.