Friday, May 23, 2008

Gut Insulin?

Whenever I have to explain to a child what happens with diabetes, I try to keep it very simple - the pancreas is broken. The pancreas makes insulin which helps us absorb the food we eat. Without a healthy pancreas to give us just the right amount of insulin, we get very sick.

Many researchers are focusing on trying to revive the pancreas or build a mechanical one to help cure this disease. With funding from the Juvenile Diabetes research Foundation (JDRF), Tim Keiffer's team at the University of British Columbia have taken a different approach. They have cured type 1 diabetes in mice by genetically engineering K-cells that produce insulin in the gut. So when the mouse eats, the K-cells in the gut make insulin in response to the food entering the GI tract.

If Tim Keiffer's work is successful in humans, my simple explanation of a broken pancreas doesn't work- but that would be ok by me.

You can read more about Dr. Keiffer's work at Vancouver's online source,

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