Thursday, March 10, 2016

Ground-breaking” Ottawa Hospital Study Gives Hope to Patients with Type 1 Diabetes

 Intriguing insight that may well mean something that can be therapeutic.  We have a tenuous link from the statistical modeling between the gut and the pancreas and now we have at least one unique agent.

This is how science progresses.  

Still a good new pathway to explore.

Ground-breaking” Ottawa Hospital study gives hope to patients with Type 1 diabetes

A breakthrough at the Ottawa Hospital Research Institute could mean the first new treatments in almost 100 years are on the horizon for people suffering from Type 1 diabetes.

The discovery, announced Wednesday, found the presence of a particular bacteria-killing protein in the pancreas — a protein that’s often found in other parts of the body like gut tissues, but not normally in the pancreas.

According to the Ottawa Hospital Research Institute’s website, Type 1 diabetes happens when the body can’t properly control the level of sugar in the blood. Insulin is normally produced by the pancreas and control blood sugar levels. However, people with diabetes either can’t produce enough insulin or aren’t able to respond to it properly. More than 400 million people around the world have Type 1 diabetes, 300,000 of which are Canadian. 

Ever since the discovery of insulin by Canadian physician Dr. Frederick Banting in 1921, patients with Type 1 diabetes have had to rely on the injectable medicine as the only means of managing the autoimmune disease.

With this new discovery, however, that could all change.

Yahoo Canada spoke with one of the study’s researcher Dr. Fraser Scott at the Ottawa Hospital Research Institute and the University of Ottawa to understand what the discovery means for science, patients and doctors and how it could mean a brighter future for those living with the disease.

Q: What was the discovery?

A: A protein, called cathelicidin antimicrobial peptide (CAMP), was found in the pancreas of patients with Type 1 diabetes. This protein has been found to help the pancreas regenerate and produce insulin. Normally, the protein is not found in the pancreas, but rather the gastrointestinal (GI) tract.

Q: How did the team come to make the discovery?

A: This study was initiated following the discovery by one of my students Christopher Patrick during his PhD studies and was expanded by post-doctoral fellow named Dr. Lynley Pound. We’ve been interested in the (GI) tract — the gut — in Type 1 diabetes and the contents of our GI tract, which is mostly microbes and dietary molecules and we’re mostly interested in the dietary side of it. We’ve been investigating how a certain diet really contains no whole proteins which protects our animals from developing diabetes. And when we were looking at gene expression in the GI tract, one of the highest expressed genes was something called cathelicidin antimicrobial peptide (CAMP). And when (Christopher) was examining slides the GI tract and the pancreas and found — to both our surprise — that CAMP was also expressed in the cells that produce insulin and that was surprising because why would you need a anti-microbial peptide in an area of the body that is not exposed to bacteria?

Q: What surprised you most about the results of the study?

A: We’ve been interested for a long time in the whole gastrointestinal tract — the gut — in Type 1 diabetes. The incidence of Type 1 diabetes over last half century has been increasing and it’s been increasing a bit too quick for it to be genetics alone because this is a disease that requires genetic susceptibility. But there is an environmental component and that component we’ve been working on is diet.

Q: Insulin was discovered in Canada almost 100 years ago but there hasn’t been any changes in how Type 1 diabetes is treated. What, then, could this discovery mean for patients?

A: I mean, it doesn’t help them in the immediate future. It’s something that needs to first be confirmed by others, which has — in fact — been confirmed by others as another published paper has confirmed what we’ve reported. But it needs to be confirmed in different pre-clinical models of this disease and then if there’s enough interest it could go to clinical trial but that would be a number of years down the road.

Q: What does the future for patients with Type 1 diabetes looks like now?

A: We’re still injecting people with insulin nearly 100 years after it was discovered and the clinical trials have shown only marginal effects so we’re not yet able to reverse diabetes once it’s diagnosed. But there are other things that are happening that have benefited — and that will benefit — patients. Things like the development of a possible artificial pancreas, better forms of insulin, better ways of delivering insulin are just some ways being looked at now as well.

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