Is there hope for diabetes cure through synthetic biology?

| | May 4, 2017
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This article or excerpt is included in the GLP’s daily curated selection of ideologically diverse news, opinion and analysis of biotechnology innovation.

Type 1 diabetes is a discouraging disease. Despite the availability of synthetic insulin and increasingly sophisticated monitoring technology, it’s still a condition that requires incessant vigilance: Diabetics must constantly track their blood sugar levels and carefully use that information to calibrate drug doses. Even if you manage to do all of that well, bad days remain almost inevitable.

More recently, though, the field of synthetic biology—a hybrid discipline that aims to construct or redesign biological components and systems—has shown the potential to produce a novel set of treatments. The solutions remain speculative, but they do offer cautious reasons for hope.

In essence, the researchers behind this paper sought to re-engineer human embryonic kidney cells to mimic the functions of the pancreatic beta cells (the “mimetic” of the paper’s title) that immune systems of those with diabetes destroy. They then implanted these designer cells into diabetic mice, where, according to the paper, they successfully and autonomously stabilized their host’s blood sugar levels.

As any longtime diabetic will tell you, the most likely outcome is that we simply won’t see results soon, if ever. Even when you have a good, workable idea, the process of medical science tends to be slow.

The GLP aggregated and excerpted this blog/article to reflect the diversity of news, opinion, and analysis. Read full, original post: A Diabetic Dream — Can synthetic biology finally cure the autoimmune disease?

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