DIABETES: Scientists retrain cells to produce insulin - KMSP-TV

DIABETES: Scientists retrain cells to produce insulin

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Flickr/Creative Commons/Jill A. Brown Flickr/Creative Commons/Jill A. Brown

New scientific research is lending hope to diabetics that one day, needles won't be a part of daily life because the developments led by the Columbia University Medical Center in New York could change everything.

There have been great strides in managing diabetes, but it is still the 7th leading cause of death in the United States. A diagnosis brings a lifetime of needles and checking glucose levels, but that may not always be the case.

For Linda Schesso, the needles are a part of her daily routine. She's been diabetic for nearly 50 years, and what started with one insulin injection per day has progressed to five. If she doesn't give her body insulin -- a hormone that allows the body to process sugar -- when she eats, there could be dangerous consequences.

"If I wouldn't take my insulin, I would go into ketoacidosis," she explained. "Usually, you have to be hospitalized for that."

Yet, Schesso says a new drug is giving her hope. Scientists have found a way to deactivate a certain gene, and that allows a patient's own stomach cells to produce insulin. Dr. J. Godsall told Fox 9 News that the development is different from other studies that involve transplants because anti-rejection medication won't be needed.

"It would be self-regulating," Godsall explained. "If it's your own cell, you don't have to worry about the rejection."

Clinical trials could get going in just a year or two. If the results are positive, it could not only free diabetics from injections, but could reduce the number of complications many diabetics experience.

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