Diabetes Insulin delivered by Pills - Researchers developing Plant Grown Insulin from genetically modified Lettuce

Diabetes Insulin delivered by Pills - Researchers developing Plant Grown Insulin from genetically modified Lettuce

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[Best Syndication] Researchers from the University of Central Florida have studied the effects of genetically altered tobacco plants that make plant insulin that showed promising results in diabetic mice. This UCF study received $2 million in funding from The National Institutes of Health. The study was first reported in the July issue of Plant Biotechnology Journal.

The researchers were able to take freeze dried plant cells from the modified tobacco plant and give it to five-week-old diabetic mice as a powder for over an eight week period of time. At the end of the eight weeks the diabetic mice had achieved normal blood and urine sugar levels and the mice were also having their own cells produce normal levels of insulin.

While the study is in its early stages, the researchers hope to be able to modify lettuce to grow the plant insulin and may help treat people with diabetes both in its early stages as well as in its later stages. While the research is currently using tobacco, the researchers want to produce a plant insulin from a crop that is cheap to grow and is not associated with the negative aspect of tobacco.

Currently insulin is not able to be delivered in pill form because it is broken down in the digestion process before entering into the bloodstream. Insulin is usually given by injection or by inhaling to reach the bloodstream effectively. Lead researcher Professor Henry Daniell goal is to develop plants that would protect the insulin during digestion and allowing the insulin to be gradually released into the bloodstream as the plant cells become broken down and digested.

“Currently, the only relief for diabetes is a momentary relief,” Daniell said. “Diabetics still have to monitor their blood and urine sugar levels. They have to inject themselves with insulin several times a day. Having a permanent solution for this, I’m sure, would be pretty exciting.”

The researchers are hoping that the human trials will be as successful as the mice studies. If successful, this method for delivering insulin would considerably reduce the cost involved in treating and preventing diabetes complications.

“Diabetes is a big health and financial burden in the United States and in the rest of the world,” Daniell said. “This study would facilitate a dramatic change because so far there is no medicine that will cure insulin-dependent diabetes.”

By Mark Barone
Best Syndication Writer

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