Scientists observed that after injecting capsaicin, a chilli ingredient, insulin levels rose and blood glucose levels returned to normal rapidly. The revelation of sensory nerves’ function in diabetes opens the door to novel treatment options.
After successful experiments on mice, researchers at Toronto University in Canada discovered the injectable treatment and hope it will improve the lives of millions of people.
Diabetes is regulated by anomalies in the sensory nociceptor (pain-related) nerve endings in the pancreatic islet cells that generate insulin, according to researchers from The Hospital for Sick Children (SickKids), the University of Calgary, and The Jackson Laboratory in Bar Harbor, Maine. This finding, which has long been the elusive objective of diabetes research, has led to novel diabetes treatment techniques that allow for disease reversal without the use of harmful immunosuppression.
Trials on Human:
When the mice’s pancreatic sensory nerves were injected with the substance, they began producing insulin normally almost instantaneously. Trials on humans with type 1 and type 2 -diabetes are expected to begin within the next six months.
Michael Dosch, one of the researchers, believes that if the findings in people are comparable, a single injection might put diabetes at bay for years. The research was characterized as “stunning” by Dosch.
The researchers also discovered that type 1 and type 2 diabetes are more similar than previously assumed, and that nerves can play a role in other chronic inflammatory diseases including inflammatory bowel disease and asthma.
Type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune disease that affects 10% of the 21 million people who have been diagnosed with diabetes. The immune system has been singled out as the only culprit in studies, and research into the disease’s underlying processes is long needed.
Diabetes and the nervous system have long been studied by the SickKids research department, which looked at both human and animal models of the disease. The team recently discovered an unexplored control circuit between insulin-producing islets and their sensory or pain neurons. This circuit keeps the islet function normal.
“We began looking at nervous system elements that appeared to play a role in Type 1 diabetes and discovered that specific sensory neurons are critical for islet immune attack in the pancreas,” said Dr. Hans Michael Dosch, study principal investigator, senior scientist at SickKids, and professor of Paediatrics and Immunology at the University of Toronto.
“These neurons release inadequate neuropeptides to support normal islet activity, resulting in a vicious loop of increasing islet stress.” The research team found how to cure the problem by providing neuropeptides and even reversed diabetes in diabetes-prone NOD mice, the gold-standard diabetes model.
Dr. Pere Santamaria, study partner and professor of Microbiology and Infectious Diseases at the University of Calgary, said, “This discovery opens up an altogether new avenue of studies in Type 1 and perhaps Type 2 diabetes, as well as tissue-selective autoimmunity in general.” “By developing new therapeutic targets and methods for both Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes, we have gained a deeper knowledge of both diseases.”
“We are currently working hard to expand our research to patients, where many have sensory nerve abnormalities, but we don’t yet know if these abnormalities begin early in life and contribute to illness development,” Dosch noted.