gene therapy for diabetes type 1, type 1 diabetes, CRISPR

Could gene therapy be the future of diabetes care?

With DNA altering technology, there’s new hope for gene therapy for diabetes. New gene therapy technology could be the key to curing type 1.

CRISPR technology

In 2017, the gene editing technology CRISP (clustered, regularly interspaced, short, palindromic, repeat) was successfully used to treat mice with type 1.

CRISPR is a sped-up version of gene editing technology of the past, and it allows scientist to quickly make changes to DNA.

In the 2017 study, scientists at the Salk Institute were able to use CRISPR not to cut genes but to jump-start the activity of other genes, creating new beta cells in mice with type 1. The importance of beta cells is that they are the cells that make insulin, which don’t work properly in those with type 1.


What else can CRISPR do?

Since this development, CRISPR technology has been used to

  • implant skin grafts,
  • stimulate insulin secretion,
  • switch off an enzyme that causes beta cells to die, and
  • identify immune cells that attack the pancreas in type 1.

New multimillion-dollar deal in gene therapy for diabetes

In new CRISPR news, the biotechnology company CRISPR Therapeutics is partnering with ViaCyte in a $25 million deal with a goal to cure type 1.

ViaCyte has been working on creating new pancreatic cells out of stem cells. However, the body tends to reject these newly created cells as foreign. That’s where CRISPR technology comes in — to make the cells appear safe and non-threatening to the immune system.

This massive deal would be a big move forward for the gene therapy, regenerative medicine, and type 1 treatment.


Risks and concerns

There are risks that come with altering DNA, including introducing new mutations. Many more trials must be done before researchers can know which of these promising treatments  in gene therapy for diabetes will be successful in humans.