Insulin is a hormone that regulates the blood levels, distribution to cells, and storage of glucose. Diabetes is a disease in which this regulation breaks down. Too much glucose remains in the blood, while the body cells are starving for energy.
Dogs can get one of two types of diabetes. Type 1 diabetes describes glucose regulation break down due to insufficient insulin production. Type 2 is known as insulin resistant diabetes, meaning there is plenty of insulin but the body cells do not respond to it. Dogs mostly suffer from Type 1.
The treatment, logically, consists of supplementing the deficient insulin. That is both straightforward and complicated. Firstly, it involves needles. Secondly, perfect regulation can be tricky. In a healthy dog, the insulin levels respond directly to the glucose levels and cells’ need for energy. But both of these things are highly variable.
What if there was a treatment option that would both eliminate the need for needles as well as restore the natural feedback regulating insulin levels?
Purdue University, in collaboration with the Indiana University School of Medicine, is working on a new way to implement the transplantation treatment.
It’s not a new idea, but this method is trying to address previous challenges. Islet transplantation was invasive and much of the transplanted islets were destroyed by the immune system. This time, they’re experimenting with injecting a mixture of islets and collagen under the skin, instead of liver.
In mice, this treatment seems to reverse Type 1 diabetes within 24 hours and maintains insulin independence for 90 days.
So that’s all pretty interesting and I am curious to see where it goes.