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[IP] Poor, poor Diabetics must take shots

I'm sure someone will offer me an attitude adjustment, but I found the
following news irritating. I don't know if I'm irritated with a news
reporter, or with the researchers. It all depends on whether the scientists
really did spend all that time just to save us from the needle. I swear!
Can't we get anyone to understand that the complications of this disease are
exponentially worse than being poked by a needle? But everyone wants to cure
us of the needle poke. AAAUGGHGHGHGHGH!!!!!!!!

(My hope is, the reporter misunderstood and transferred his/her fear of
needles onto this story and made that the most important goal of this
research, as opposed to it's actually being the most important goal of this

Anika, a stuck-up Diabetic

(Read on and weep....)

>>>Researchers find new way to deliver insulin in lab studies
February 4, 2000
Web posted at: 2:33 PM EST (1933 GMT)

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Researchers have engineered cells that can store insulin
until a pill triggers the hormone's release, a technique that may one day
offer a needle-free treatment for diabetics.

In a study appearing today in the journal Science, researchers say that
experiments with mice show the technique can correct high levels of sugar in
the blood, the primary symptom of a common form of diabetes.

Tim Clackson, senior author of the study and a researcher at Ariad
Pharmaceuticals in Cambridge, Massachusetts, said the technique is now being
tested on larger animals and could be ready for human testing within two

Clackson said the technique causes insulin to clump inside a cell with
another protein, forming a molecule that is too large to leave the cell. A
drug, given as a pill, breaks up the clump, allowing the insulin to flow
into the blood stream in a way that mimics the spurt of hormone normally
secreted by the pancreas.

"The amount of protein (such as insulin) that gets released is directly
related to the amount of drug that is given," said Clackson. "The more drug
you give, the more protein gets released into circulation."

In diabetes, the technique theoretically would allow a patient to precisely
control insulin levels in the blood by a pill. Many diabetics now must
control insulin levels by injection.

A common type of diabetes is caused by the failure of the pancreas to
produce an appropriate amount of insulin to metabolize glucose, or sugar,
levels in the blood stream. Normally, the pancreas releases insulin in
response to the detected level of glucose.

Dr. Richard Furlanetto, scientific director of the Juvenile Diabetes
Foundation, said the experimental technique "is very clever science" but
might fall short.

"To be truly useful, it would have to be coupled to a system that would
release the hormone in direct response to the levels of glucose in the
blood," said Furlanetto.

However, Furlanetto said the technique could be very useful in treating
conditions that require periodic secretion, or pulsed release, of some
needed protein, such as growth hormone.

In the experiment, Clackson and his colleagues inserted into laboratory
cells genes that produce insulin and a protein that naturally clumps, or
aggregates, with insulin. Once inside the cells, the genes produce the two
proteins. They form clusters that are too large to pass through pores in the
walls of the cell compartments.

The engineered cells were then injected into the muscles of mice that are
diabetic and normally develop high levels of glucose in the blood.

When these mice were fed a drug that caused the protein clusters to split
apart, insulin was released into the bloodstream and glucose levels dropped
to normal.

In control mice, which had the engineered cells but were not given the oral
drug, insulin did not appear in the bloodstream and glucose levels stayed

"The insulin stays in the compartments of the cell and has no toxicity or
adverse effects. It just sits there," said Clackson. "Only when the animal
receives the drug do the aggregates break apart and then flow into the

Clackson said the experiment was only a "proof of concept" for the
technique. The next step is to transfer genes directly into body muscle
cells, a common gene therapy technique. To do this, the target genes will be
put into a virus that would be injected and deliver the genes into muscle
cells, he said. >>

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