GLP-1 gene therapy for Diabetes

Diabetes is a chronic disease that affects more than two million Canadians and 135 million people worldwide. People with this condition are unable to maintain normal blood sugar levels due to a lack of, or insensitivity to, insulin, a hormone that regulates blood sugar levels. Current treatments include insulin injections or oral drugs that stimulate insulin release or improve insulin sensitivity; however, daily administration is required due to their short-term effects. Gene therapy represents an exciting approach in treating diabetes by providing a means to achieve automatic delivery of therapeutic hormones within the body. Glucagon-like peptide-1 (GLP-1) is an intestinal gut hormone with a variety of anti-diabetic effects. Initial clinical studies show that GLP-1 can stimulate insulin production and release. Corinna Lee is examining whether gene therapy could achieve automatic, long-term release of GLP-1 from cells within the body. This research could provide insights into a new method of diabetes treatment that could eliminate the need for daily injections or oral drugs.