US-based researchers have genetically engineered a bacteria normally found in yoghurt to help control blood glucose levels in diabetic rats.
The researchers engineered this bacteria (probiotic), known as Lactobacillus gasseri, to secrete a hormone called glucagon-like peptide-1 (GLP-1). When this was fed to diabetic rats, the probiotic caused cells in the upper intestine to behave similarly to insulin-releasing pancreatic beta-cells.
Study results showed that the rats that had been fed the probiotic had 30% lower blood glucose than the rats that did not receive the probiotic. The researchers found that the probiotic had reprogrammed intestinal cells into insulin-producing cells that responded to high glucose levels the way a pancreas would.
The next step for these researchers is to prove that their method of engineering bacteria to move insulin production to the intestine will work in humans too. If successful, people with both type 1 and type 2 diabetes will be able to better control their blood sugar by simply taking a daily probiotic pill.
Read the original journal article here: http://diabetes.diabetesjournals.org/content/early/2015/01/27/db14-0635.long