Artemisinin: Capable of Reversing Type 1 Diabetes?

For years, science has sought to achieve a very specific goal in diabetes research: find a way to replace diseased beta cells with functioning ones, thus reversing diabetes. Scientists have explored treatments with pig cells, stem cells, and protein implants, but have yet to find the right compound to achieve this goal.

But according to a new study published in Cell, the malaria drug artemisinin might do the trick.

Reshaping the Alpha Cells

How will artemisinin help type 1 diabetics manage their condition? According to study leader Stefan Kubicek, the drug “change[s] the epigenetic program of glucagon-producing alpha cells and induce profound alterations of their biochemical function.”

In the pancreas, alpha and beta cells combine with other cell types in the islets, where they work together to regulate blood glucose. In a type 1 diabetic's pancreas, the insulin-producing beta cells fail to do their job, resulting in the condition. However, the alpha and beta cells are flexible; according to various studies, alpha cells can replenish insulin producing cells if enough beta cells deteriorate. Of course, there needs to be an instigating compound – and that is where artemisinin comes in.

Kubicek's team found that artemisinins have a profound effect on alpha cells in the pancreas. In fact, they reshape alpha cells by binding to a protein called gephryin. Ultimately, this transformation results in the body producing insulin naturally once again.

Kubicek and his team tested this drug on diabetic zebrafish, mice, and rats, all to great effect – all test subjects showed greater beta cell mass and improved blood sugar control after taking artemisinins. While the team remains optimistic, they know that, "Obviously, the long term effect of artemisinins needs to be tested" in humans. But, as Kubicek says, “[W]e are confident that the discovery of artemisinins and their mode of action can form the foundation for a completely new therapy of type 1 diabetes."

Source: Science Daily

Get a Free Diabetes Meal Plan

Get a free 7-Day Diabetes Meal Plan from Constance Brown-Riggs who is a Registered Dietitian-Certified Diabetes Educator and who is also a national spokesperson for the American Dietetic Association.

Just enter in your email below to download your free Diabetes Meal Plan.

By clicking Submit, you agree to send your info to InformationAboutDiabetes.com who may contact you with updates and information and we agree to use it according to our privacy policy.

More Articles

Limiting our intake of highly processed foods, and eating more whole and lightly processed fare can boost our nutrient and fiber intake, lower...

Chamomile tea has long been prized for its calming properties, but few people realize it’s also beneficial for glucose regulation. Traditionally,...

Today, the healing benefits of essential oils are more than the claims of ancient tradition and alternative medicine. They are increasingly the...

The different sugar content of fruits can be confusing when you are trying to manage your...

There is nothing close to a one-size-fits-all exercise program for those with diabetic peripheral neuropathy. The best general advice is to...

More Articles

Keeping your blood sugar levels under control can be tough. There are so many factors that can affect blood sugar, like exercise, food, illness,...

Today, the healing benefits of essential oils are more than the claims of ancient tradition and alternative medicine. They are increasingly the...

Stomach aches and other gastrointestinal pains can be signs of a bigger problem. One such problem for diabetics is gastroparesis, or delayed...

Two of the most common symptoms of diabetes are increased thirst and increased urine production. These symptoms are so prevalent in diabetics that...

The different sugar content of fruits can be confusing when you are trying to manage your...

Most people with insulin-dependent diabetes use syringes and lancets every day. However, many of them do not know how to dispose of these...

Explaining diabetes to children can seem like a daunting task, but in reality, it is no more difficult than discussing anything else important....

Diabetes is a complex disease, affecting virtually every part of the body. The damage it does, to nerve endings, blood vessels, organs, and the...

People with type 1 and type 2 diabetes have successfully competed in the Olympic Games. Their amazing stories prove that diabetes is no match for...

If your child has diabetes, you want him or her to be safe while in school and to have the same educational opportunities as other children....

Do not let pictures of yoga experts with their bodies twisted into bizarre, compact shapes fool you. Even people with stiff muscles, creaky joints...

The American Diabetes Association estimates that more than 7 million people in the United States have diabetes but don’t know it yet. These people...

While some celebrities aren't quick to talk about living with diabetes, others are quite transparent and inspiring - acting as advocates for the...

People with diabetes are about twice as likely to experience heart disease as those without the condition, making cardiovascular health a critical...

Pilates is an exercise method proven to improve flexibility, strength, coordination, muscular stamina, balance, and posture. Many Pilates...