Probiotics are popular for healthy digestion and a strong immune system. More recently, the science community researched their potential benefit in another avenues of health: glucose levels. A study published in Diabetes shows promise in developing a probiotic that would help lower blood glucose levels, the diabetes dilemma (Jan. 27, 2015).
Researchers at Cornell University investigated whether daily oral administration of human bacteria, Lactobacillus, engineered to secrete a glucagon-like peptide (GLP-1) could ameliorate hyperglycemia in a rat model of diabetes by reprogramming intestinal cells into glucose-responsive insulin-secreting cells. After 90 days, the diabetic rats fed Lactobacilli daily showed significant increases in insulin levels and, additionally, were significantly more glucose-tolerant than those fed the parent bacterial strain. These rats developed insulin-producing cells within the upper intestine in numbers sufficient to replace approximately 25 to 33 percent of the insulin capacity of non-diabetic healthy rats. There was no change in blood glucose levels when they probiotic was given to healthy rats.
These results provide evidence of the potential for a safe and effective non-absorbed oral treatment for diabetes and support the concept of engineered commensal bacterial signaling to mediate enteric cell function in vivo.