Type 1 Diabetes In Dogs Cured, Human Cure Could Soon Follow
February 7, 2013

Type 1 Diabetes In Dogs Cured, Human Cure Could Soon Follow

Lee Rannals for redOrbit.com — Your Universe Online

Researchers have made leaps and bounds, claiming that they have created a cure for type-1 diabetes in dogs, paving the way for a human cure.

Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona (UAB) scientists say they have shown for the first time that it is possible to cure diabetes in large animals, a huge step towards possibly finding a cure for humans.

The cure consists of a single session of various injections in the animal's rear legs, using simple needles that are commonly used in cosmetic treatments. These injections introduce gene therapy vectors, expressing the insulin gene, as well as glucokinase.

Glucokinase is an enzyme that regulates the uptake of glucose from the blood. Both of these genes act together to function as a "glucose sensor," automatically regulating the uptake of glucose from the blood, and reducing diabetic hyperglycemia.

"This study is the first to demonstrate a long-term cure for diabetes in a large animal model using gene therapy." said Fàtima Bosch, the head researcher.

The researchers have already tested this type of therapy on mice, but this is the first time it has been tested on large animals, laying the foundations for a potential cure in humans.

The therapy is based on the transfer of two genes to the muscle of adult animals, using a new generation of safe vectors known as adeno-associated vectors. These vectors, derived from non-pathogenic viruses, are used in gene therapy and have been successful in treating several diseases.

Dogs that are treated with a single administration of gene therapy showed good glucose control at all times, both when fasting and when fed. The dogs treated with adeno-associated vectors improved their body weight, and had not developed secondary complications four years after treatment.

This is the first study to report long-term control of diabetes in large animals, a feat that had never before been achieved. It is also the first study to report that a single administration of genes to diabetic dogs is able to maintain normoglycemia over longer term.

During the trials, dogs had normal levels of glycosylated proteins, and developed no secondary complications of diabetes after more than four years with the disease.

Multiple clinical trials have been introduced into skeletal muscle, so researchers say that the strategy reported in this study is feasible for clinical translation, meaning one day it could be the cure for Type 1 diabetes.

Future studies will help to provide the basis for initiating clinical veterinary trials of diabetes treatment for companion animals, which ultimately will help supply key information for eventual trials in humans.

Type 1 diabetes is the most common metabolic disease, and a large number of patients need insulin treatment in order to survive. Patients can also develop other serious complications, such as blindness, kidney damage or amputation of limbs, as a result of the disease.

The research was published in this week's issue of Diabetes, the principal journal for diabetes research.