Beta cell regeneration? 

A new study in mice has found that a targeted combination of drugs can restore beta cell function and achieve beta-cell redifferentiation, which could eventually open new ways for diabetes remission.  

The study, by scientists at Helmholtz Zentrum München in collaboration with Novo Nordisk,  defined seven cohorts of severely diabetic mice and treated them daily for 100 days with single and a combination of drugs. The researchers showed that a stable glucagon-like peptide-1 (GLP-1)/oestrogen combination (provided by Novo Nordisk) enables targeted and selective delivery of the nuclear hormone cargo to beta cells. This drug combination and a long-acting insulin were superior to singular treatments to both normalise glycemia, glucose tolerance, to increase pancreatic insulin content and to increase the number of beta cells.  

Importantly, administration of high doses of GLP-1/oestrogen did not show signs of systemic toxicity in rats, a pre-requisite for any future clinical testing. In collaboration with the biotech company InSphero, the researchers could also show that GLP-1/oestrogen, but not GLP-1 or oestrogen alone, increases human beta-cell function when human pancreatic islets are exposed to cytokine stress, which is known to impair human beta-cell function. 

The results from this study may pave the way for clinical studies that use GLP-1 as a carrier peptide for oestrogen but potentially also other, novel cargos to directly target beta cells for regenerative therapy and diabetes remission. 

  • The results were published in Nature Metabolism, which you can read HERE.

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