Diabetes cure may be in the nerves - During an experiment, researchers injected capsaicin (the substance that makes chili peppers taste hot) into the pancreas of type I diabetic mice. The capsiacin killed the sensory nerves in the pancreas. Oddly, by killing the nerves with capsaicin, the mice appeared to be cured of type I diabetes.

Researchers wondered if they could get the same effect without killing the nerve cells. After some looking, they identified a neuropeptide that was in low quantities or missing from the pancreas of type I diabetic mice. Oddly, when they injected the neuropeptide ("substance P") into the pancreas of diabetic mice, the mice again appeared cured of type I diabetes...for about four weeks, and then another injection was needed. So it appears that the pancreas of type I diabetic mice were not producing enough "substance P" and the sensory nerve cells were somehow involved.


OBSERVATIONS - Killing the sensory nerve cells in the pancreatic or injecting "substance P" into the pancreas appears to cure mice of type I diabetes.

SPECULATIONS - Researchers know that islets, structures that produce insulin in the pancreas, have an enormous number of sensory or pain nerves. Sensory nerves are suppose to signal the brain when tissue is damaged. Researchers suspected the sensory nerves of diabetic patients are not producing enough "substance P", which appears to tell the pancreas to produce insuliln. So it's possible that the pancreas of a type I diabetic patient is able to produce insulin. What it's not producing is enough "substance P" that signals the pancreas to produce insulin. That signal is getting short circuited somehow. Again, here's the thread of research and logic:

Researchers injected capsaicin into the pancreas to kill the pancreatic sensory nerves in mice with Type 1 diabetes.

Almost immediately, the islets began producing insulin normally.

When researchers injected the neuropeptide "substance P" into the pancreases of diabetic mice, the islet inflammation cleared up and the diabetes was gone.

Apparently, the nerves in diabetic mice were releasing too little of the neuropeptides.

The researchers are now setting out to confirm that the connection between sensory nerves and diabetes holds true in humans. If it does, they will see if their treatments have the same effects on people as they did on mice.

Quotes & Notes

Scientists say they have proof the body's nervous system helps trigger diabetes.

Diabetic mice became healthy virtually overnight after researchers injected a substance (capsaicin) to counteract the effect of malfunctioning pain neurons in the pancreas.

"I couldn't believe it," said Dr. Michael Salter, a pain expert at the Hospital for Sick Children and one of the scientists. "Mice with diabetes suddenly didn't have diabetes any more."

In Type 1 diabetes, the pancreas does not produce enough insulin to shift glucose into the cells that need it. In Type 2 diabetes, the insulin that is produced is not used effectively -- something called insulin resistance -- also resulting in poor absorption of glucose.

insulin-producing islets [have an] "enormous" number of nerves, pain neurons primarily used to signal the brain that tissue has been damaged.

Suspecting a link between the nerves and diabetes, he and Dr. Salter used an old experimental trick -- injecting capsaicin, the active ingredient in hot chili peppers, to kill the pancreatic sensory nerves in mice that had an equivalent of Type 1 diabetes.

Almost immediately, the islets began producing insulin normally.

[N]erves in diabetic mice were releasing too little of the neuropeptides...

Injected the neuropeptide "substance P" in the pancreases of diabetic mice...The islet inflammation cleared up and the diabetes was gone.

The researchers are now setting out to confirm that the connection between sensory nerves and diabetes holds true in humans. If it does, they will see if their treatments have the same effects on people as they did on mice.

Breakthrough sheds light on cause of diabetes - health - 15 December 2006 - New Scientist
TheStar.com - Team finds hope for diabetes cure
Diabetes breakthrough
Diabetes for Dummies

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