Huge news in diabetes research today, folks. (Thank you to everyone who shot me the heads-up via email). Scientists in Canada have apparently cured mice of Type 1 diabetes by injecting them with capsaicin (the active ingredient in hot chili peppers), and a neuropeptide substance, which seemed to reverse the disease.
According to reports, "The team found that abnormal nerve endings in the insulin-producing cells of the pancreas initiated a chain of events that caused Type 1 diabetes in mice. When they removed the nerve cells, the mice did not develop the disorder."
The reason this news is so big is that it's a paradigm-changer, folks, i.e. an entirely new way of looking at the diabetes puzzle: diabetes may be a disease of the nervous system, and not simply an autoimmune disease, as traditionally assumed.
Until now, research has primarily focused on the immune system and why it attacks and destroys the insulin-producing islet cells. If this new research from the Toronto Hospital for Sick Children proves sound, it means science has identified a control circuit between islet cells and their related sensory nerves that is the real cause of diabetes, lead researcher Hans Michael Dosch says.
"Disrupting this circuit led to inflammation around the islets and eventually to their destruction. Without these cells, the mice could not make insulin."
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Dosch has immediate plans to start research with humans next month, launching a clinical trial to explore whether patients with high risk of Type 1 diabetes have the same sensory nerve abnormalities as the mice do. Cross your fingers!
I know we've heard about researchers "closing in on a cure" for years, but this one really does sound promising.