A group of researchers at Cornell University have recently discovered a probiotic that may be considered a new treatment for diabetes.

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What would your life be like if taking a simple pill could help you manage your diabetes? With the development of new research, this futuristic dream might be close to becoming a reality. Researchers at Cornell University have engineered a common strain of human gut bacteria called Lactobacillus to produce a hormone that releases insulin in response to food. This bacterium could either supplement or take over the work of insulin production from the pancreas.

Exciting Research Results

The new study, led by Cornell professor John March, claims that the engineered probiotic essentially rewires the body and reduces blood glucose levels. Professor March and his colleagues conducted tests of the bacterium on a group of diabetic rats with successful results.

Over a ninety-day period, the researchers discovered that the group of diabetic rats that received the probiotic, in the form of a pill, had blood glucose levels up to 30 percent lower than those that did not receive it.

Changing Cells

The team also discovered that the pill appeared to convert the rats’ intestinal cells, making them to behave in a similar way to pancreatic cells. This is important because in healthy people, pancreatic cells release insulin and regulate blood glucose levels. Professor March explains that the treatment is basically moving the job of glucose control from the pancreas to the upper intestine.

What It Means

This discovery is instrumental because probiotics are generally considered safe. Plus, they are already available on the market and the people who take them generally report no adverse side effects.

The next step for the team is to test higher doses of the probiotic in diabetic rats to determine if it can completely reverse the diabetic condition. If it’s successful, there is potential for the probiotic to be converted into a pill for human use, which can be used to treat both type one and type two diabetes. Ultimately the goal would be for individuals to take the pill to help them manage their condition without the need for insulin injections. While this research is still in its infancy, it’s initial success provides much hope that better, less invasive treatment of diabetes is on the way.

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