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Insulin delivery using infusion pumps can be effective for treatment of T1D, but it does not completely protect T1D patients from the long-term effects of the disease or enable a normal non-diabetic lifestyle. Diabetes research has focused on using insulin-producing cells isolated from cadavers or made from stem cells in T1D patients. While some of the research has yielded promising results, nothing yet has radically changed general approaches to treat patients.
Our approach is to give bacterial cells that naturally live in our body the ability to function like our insulin-producing cells, to synthesize insulin when blood glucose levels are high to maintain proper glucose levels in T1D patients. In the proposed project, we will establish the feasibility and safety of this approach by making bacterial strains with this function and testing them in mouse systems. If successful, our research will form the basis for a bacterial treatment that can circumvent the struggle of injected insulin therapy and the issues regarding rejection of transplanted human cells.