Pups get doggie diabetes cure with gene therapy

Doggie diabetes is a condition that no pet owner wants to face.

But the incidence of dog diabetes is on the rise, and researchers are hard at work to find a cure. A recent study shows that gene therapy might help to reverse diabetes in canines--and keep the disease at bay for the long-term.

The study

Spanish researchers gave induced diabetes to five beagle puppies who were six months to a year old. They then gave the puppies gene therapy injections that served two purposes: the first to sense the amount of glucose in the skeletal muscles and the second to help the dogs' bodies release insulin. Injections were given daily in the dogs' hind legs.

Results showed that the dogs recovered from diabetes quickly and were able to maintain normal blood sugar levels without insulin. The animals were monitored over four years, during which all of them stayed healthy and had no complications.

Implications for humans

And while the researchers note that type 1 diabetes in humans is different than the induced diabetes given to the dogs, the findings could point to possible uses for gene therapy in humans.

"Dogs get the food you want them to have," said Dr. Massimo Trucco, chief of the division of immunogenics at Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh. "They probably spent most of their time in a cage. But kids eat what they want and play when they want, meaning their [blood sugar level] varies dramatically."

More information about gene therapy for diabetes can be found at the Human Genome Project website.

Source: Web MD

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