Tag Archives: type 2 diabetes treatment

Direct Conversion Technology

Using Direct Conversion Technology to Transform Blood Cells into Nerve Cells as a Major Prognostic Tool for Neurological Diseases

Blood, skin, and tissue biopsy samples are easily attained for study but not so much from the human nervous system, which is a complex and delicate arrangement of neural wiring. With a new patented direct conversion technology developed by stem cell scientists at McMaster University in Ontario, Canada, blood cells (derived from a simple routine blood draw) can be transformed into neurons. This new advancement has strong implications in determining the likelihood of a patient with a certain disease to develop neurodegenerative disorders, such as diabetic neuropathy, and possibly create better drugs and treatments to combat such debilitating conditions.

The human nervous system has two main branches: the central nervous system (CNS), comprised of the brain and spinal cord, and the peripheral nervous system (PNS)—the rest of the body—which feeds information to the CNS about pain, itchiness, and temperature from nerve receptors from different parts of the body.

Direct conversion technology uses a patient’s blood sample to generate one million sensory nerve cells that serve as a snapshot of that patient’s PNS, and can be used to uniquely predict how the patient’s nerve cells will react and respond to stimuli. The new method can also generate CNS cells as the conversion technology can create neural stem cells as a precursor to the sensory nerves that make up the PNS.

In the future, diabetics can know in advance if they will develop neuropathy characterized by shooting or burning pain in hands and feet, numbness, weakness, or tingling due to PNS damage from an underlying medical condition, e.g. diabetes. A focused treatment tailored to combat pain is key in effectively remedying the condition. Current pain medications, such as opioids, only systemically mask the perception of pain by way of the CNS. With their new direct conversion technology in hand, McMaster scientists plan to target PNS pain without affecting the CNS that can often cause unwanted side effects, such as addictive behavior associated with narcotics use.

Two Hormones are Better Than One: New Treatment for Type 2 Diabetes

Together, German and American scientists have created a molecule that combines the effects of the gastrointestinal hormones GLP-1 (glucagon-like peptide 1) and GIP (gastric inhibitory peptide) in hopes of effectively combating type 2 diabetes (also known as insulin-dependent diabetes) by reducing weight and tightly regulating blood sugar levels.

GIP, also called glucose-dependent insulinotropic peptide, together with GLP-1, induces insulin secretion in response to elevated blood glucose levels, such as after a meal, thereby decreasing sugar levels. GLP-1 also controls food intake and regulates appetite by increasing satiety signals to the brain and inhibiting acid secretion and slowing gastric emptying in the stomach. Both hormones break down fat as well.

Currently, GLP-1 analogues and DPP4 (dipeptidyl peptidase 4) inhibitors are on the market to treat type 2 diabetes. DPP4 inhibitors block the effects of DPP4 to prevent the breakdown of GLP-1, enhancing the hormone’s function and decrease blood sugar. However, the treatments only target GLP-1 receptors. The molecule developed by the scientists targets both GLP-1 and GIP receptors, greatly reducing blood sugar and fat levels, leading to greater weight loss and increased metabolism, according to the animal models studied.

An added benefit is the decreased likelihood of side effects compared to the single-hormone treatments available now. Common side effects, most being gastrointestinal issues such as bloating, cramping, flatulence, diarrhea, constipation, and nausea, are said to be diminished with the new form of therapy.

Type 2 diabetes, caused by the body’s resistance to insulin and thus dangerously elevates blood sugar levels, is the most common form of diabetes. For many, a strict diet and exercise regimen alone does not help increase body’s sensitivity to insulin and must rely on medications to help maintain healthy blood glucose levels. Scientists hope the new model can greatly improve fat and sugar metabolism and keep blood glucose levels uniform, thereby increasing quality of life.