Researchers from the United States believe that it is possible to trigger the pancreas to regenerate itself via a special type of fasting diet.
Restoring the function of the organ was able to reverse symptoms of diabetes in animal experiments.
Experts believe that this could become an exciting new treatment for the debilitating condition.
Statistics indicate that there had been something of a diabetes academic, not only in Britain but across the Western world.
In the study, mice were put on a modified form of the “fasting-mimicking diet”.
And experiments demonstrated that the diet regenerated beta cells in the pancreas.
Dr Valter Longo, from the University of Southern California, who was involved in the research, explained how the fasting diet works.
“Our conclusion is that by pushing the mice into an extreme state and then bringing them back – by starving them and then feeding them again – the cells in the pancreas are triggered to use some kind of developmental reprogramming that rebuilds the part of the organ that’s no longer functioning.”
Particularly intriguing for researchers is the fact that the technique had a positive effect on both type one and type two diabetes.
Longo reflected that this could be a major breakthrough that represents a revolution in the treatment of the blood sugar-related condition.
“Medically, these findings have the potential to be very important because we’ve shown – at least in mouse models – that you can use diet to reverse the symptoms of diabetes. Scientifically, the findings are perhaps even more important because we’ve shown that you can use diet to reprogramme cells without having to make any genetic alterations.”
Dr Emily Burns, research communications manager at Diabetes UK, was enthusiastic about the possibility of the new diet, also striking a note of caution regarding its silver bullet status.
“This is potentially very exciting news, but we need to see if the results hold true in humans before we’ll know more about what it means for people with diabetes. People with type 1 and type 2 diabetes would benefit immensely from treatments that can repair or regenerate insulin-producing cells in the pancreas.”
Nonetheless, Longo also warned that medical supervision is essential when attempting this diet, and that further research is required in order to fully understand its consequences.