Beta Cell Shield, Mom’s Genetic T1D Role, Probiotics

The Insulin Nation Research Roundup for October 2014



Insulin Nation takes a look at some of the most notable Type 1 diabetes research results:

shutterstock_94519528_knight_300pxThe Beta Cell Shield
One of the biggest hurdles to finding a functional cure for Type 1 diabetes is that the body doesn’t want to stop killing off insulin-producing beta cells. That means that a beta cell transplant must usually be accompanied by a lifetime supply of immune-system-suppressing drugs, and even then the beta cells usually die. Now, an Israeli company is conducting an 8-person clinical trial of an implantable device designed to house implanted beta cells and keep them alive while they produce insulin. According to FierceMedicalDevices, Israeli-based Beta-O2 is testing the device, called the βAir Bio-Artificial Pancreas, thanks to $1 million in funding from the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation (JDRF). If all goes according to plan, βAir is designed to house some 400,000 insulin-producing beta cells that can release into the bloodstream when the device senses insulin is needed; the cells are kept alive with twice-daily injections of air.

shutterstock_123083218_pregnant_snow_300pxT1D and Maternal Stress
Exposure to stress factors during pregnancy may contribute to a higher rate of diabetes, according to a Canadian study. Researchers tracked mothers who were pregnant during a massive 1998 ice storm in Quebec, and then studied the DNA signatures of their offspring. They found a direct connection between days expectant mothers went without power and the genetic makeup of T-cells in the children. The longer mothers were without power, the more likely their children had “stressed” T-cell genetic makeup and higher rates of certain autoimmune conditions, including diabetes. Researchers emphasized this phenomenon was a result of length of exposure to stress (days without power), not the level of emotional reaction to stress. In other words, this genetic change wasn’t the mothers’ fault.

Long-Acting Insulin Wins
Canadian researchers have found strong evidence that long-acting insulin therapy beats out shorter-acting insulin therapy when it comes to A1C control and medical outcomes. A team of researchers poured over the results of 39 studies that compared the two forms of insulin; these studies involved 7,496 people with Type 1 diabetes. According to a report in dailyRX, long-acting insulin was shown to improve blood-glucose control, cut down on bouts of severe hypoglycemia, and curb weight gain when compared to shorter-acting insulin. The researchers concluded that while long-acting insulin might be more expensive, it’s worth it when medical outcomes are factored.

shutterstock_19101262_baby_drinking_300pxProbiotics Shielding Against T1D?
A multinational study has found some evidence that probiotics may shield children genetically prone to Type 1 diabetes from onset of the condition. The research team, lead by a University of South Florida Tampa researcher, examined infant exposure to probiotics and found that early exposure correlated with reduced risk of developing islet autoimmunity, the condition that leads to the body attacking insulin-producing cells in the body. According to Diabetes in Control, Finland had the highest rate of infant exposure to probiotics (35.9%), followed by Germany (24%), Sweden (11.6%) and the US (2.2%). In the study, probiotic exposure came through infant formula.

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Craig Idlebrook is a past editor for Insulin Nation, Type 2 Nation, and Información Sobre Diabetes. He is now the community engagement and content manager for T1D Exchange.