Revolutionary capsule offers hope to diabetics
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technique that has been found to successfully treat the symptoms of gout could
result in a new form of therapy for a range of other medical conditions – such
as diabetes and obesity, say experts.
Gout is caused by a build up of uric acid in the bloodstream, which results in
crystals of uric acid being deposited in the kidneys and joints, leading to
bouts of extreme pain.
Professor Martin Fussenegger of the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in
Zurich designed a 'molecular prosthesis' to treat gout, which is made from human
cells designed to detect an increase in levels of uric acid and to respond by
secreting an enzyme called urate oxydase, which destroys uric acid.
The treatment consists of implanting a small plastic capsule under the skin,
which is loaded with genetically engineered cells taken from the patients
The capsule effectively works as a synthetic organ balancing the body's
chemicals and hormones.
"We have constructed a synthetic genetic circuitry that can detect uric acid in
the bloodstream and process this information to produce a therapeutic response,"
the Independent quoted Fussenegger as saying.
Tests on laboratory mice have proved the efficacy of the new technique.
According to scientists, human clinical trials could begin in two years.
The researchers hope to adapt the technique so that the genetically engineered
human cells living in the plastic capsules can be programmed to deal with a
range of other metabolic disorders, such as the hormonal imbalances leading to
diabetes and obesity.
The new research has been published in the journal
- ANI / Times of India