Columbia scientific study has conducted a study that suggests cells inside intestines might be employed to make insulin for patients with type I diabetes. Previously, researchers considered stem cell transplants to be the only method to replace lost cells inpatients with type I diabetes. This type of discovery may also mean that these patients would be free from daily insulin injections too.

Researchers have been conducting their work on mice and published their leads to the journal Nature Genetics.

Type I diabetes is an autoimmune ailment that destroys pancreas cells employed for producing insulin. Once these cells go missing in the pancreas, patients with the disease have to inject themselves with insulin to keep their blood sugar levels in balance.

In addition, patients must use a to keep their sugars at an acceptable level.

Scientists have long sought to combat the effects of type I diabetes by developing a cell that will do the work of the pancreas cells by releasing insulin in to the bloodstream when necessary. Scientific study has been able to recreate these types of cells in the lab using stem cells. However, these cells aren’t yet right for use in diabetics because they do not release insulin at the appropriate time. If blood sugar levels go unchecked and unbalanced, someone could fall victim to hypoglycemia.

Doctors Chutima Talchai, PhD and Domenico Accili, MD and professor of medicine at Columbia University Medical Center conducted the study on progenitor cells in mice. Their research shows that these cells could create insulin-producing cells.

Progenitor cells are just like stem cells for the reason that they can be accustomed to recreate other cells. However, they cannot divide and replicate cells indefinitely. Doctors Talchai and Accili used progenitor cells from the gastrointestinal tract, as they have been discovered to produce cells that can recreate serotonin, gastric inhibitory peptide, and other cells and hormones found in the bloodstream and GI tract.

The doctors found their results by controlling a specific gene that has been found to determine what a cell is going to be, Foxo1. When this gene was flipped off, the progenitor cells began to produce insulin by themselves.

These cells might be dangerous if they did not release the right amount of insulin in the right time, but researchers found that these cells did exactly that.

The insulin-producing progenitor cells utilized in the mice effectively regulated glucose levels and produced insulin in sufficient quantity.

This studies suggest that insulin-producing cells might be reproduced within the GI tracts of diabetics, both pediatric and adult alike.

In the press release for that new findings, Dr. Accili said “Nobody might have predicted this result. Many things could have happened after we knocked out Foxo1. Within the pancreas, whenever we get rid of Foxo1, nothing happens. So why does something happen in the gut? Why dont we obtain a cell that produces another hormone? We dont yet know.”

The next step in the research, based on Dr. Accili, is to locate a drug which has exactly the same effects on progenitor cells in humans as flipping off Foxo1 does in mice.

“Its important to realize that a new treatment for type I diabetes must be just like safe as, and more effective than, insulin,” Dr. Accili says. “We cant test treatments which are risky simply to remove the burden of daily injections. Insulin is not simple or perfect, but it works and it is safe.”