This Could Be Fantastic News

Hurrah for red hot chile peppers

In a discovery that has stunned even those behind it, scientists at a Toronto hospital say they have proof the body’s nervous system helps trigger diabetes, opening the door to a potential near-cure of the disease that affects millions of Canadians.
Diabetic mice became healthy virtually overnight after researchers injected a substance to counteract the effect of malfunctioning pain neurons in the pancreas.
“I couldn’t believe it,” said Dr. Michael Salter, a pain expert at the Hospital for Sick Children and one of the scientists. “Mice with diabetes suddenly didn’t have diabetes any more.”

Here’s the cool part

Dr. Dosch had concluded in a 1999 paper that there were surprising similarities between diabetes and multiple sclerosis, a central nervous system disease. His interest was also piqued by the presence around the insulin-producing islets of an “enormous” number of nerves, pain neurons primarily used to signal the brain that tissue has been damaged.
Suspecting a link between the nerves and diabetes, he and Dr. Salter used an old experimental trick — injecting capsaicin, the active ingredient in hot chili peppers, to kill the pancreatic sensory nerves in mice that had an equivalent of Type 1 diabetes.
“Then we had the biggest shock of our lives,” Dr. Dosch said. Almost immediately, the islets began producing insulin normally “It was a shock, really out of left field, because nothing in the literature was saying anything about this.”

I hope this works out, and quickly.

7 Responses to “This Could Be Fantastic News”

  1. Nightfly says:

    In other words, the theory is that the pancreas equates producing insulin with pain and won’t do it… until it no longer triggers that response.
    That is frickin’ awesome.

  2. You realize, of course, that Tabasco will become prescription-required.

  3. Crusader says:

    I hope they start looking for guinea pigs soon, as I will be first to sign up. i’ve been 28 years waiting for this crap to be over with.
    Bring. It. On.
    Maybe this will work out in the next few years, then after this perhaps I could swing an eye transplant…..

  4. John says:

    Careful guys. Type 1 Diabtes is a tough nut to crack – in many of those cases there are no islet cells left to stimulate – and despite what these guys say, there may be an autoimmune component to that disease. Type 2 diabetes is where this is more likely to help, but only if the disease has not progressed too far so that the islet cells have atrophied or undergone apoptosis. Mouse models are just that – models.
    This is really, realy hopeful, but also a really, really long way from ever being useful. A friend of mine who was in drug discovery back in the 1970s and 1980s likes to say that back then we got real good at curing disease in mice and rats, but what the nineties were all about is learning how mice and rats are different from humans. Academics have no institutional memory, since they are alll one-man shows, so this release is not tempered with that wisdom.
    I don’t mean to piss on your parade, but what I just wrote is how “hopeful” sounds, coming out of a scientist who isn’t interested in commercializing his own discovery.

  5. Agreed, John, but hope springs eternal. Any potential use is years away, even discounting the lawyers and luddites.

  6. Crusader says:

    Good points John, but after almost 30 years, any bit of news is a bright spot. And also, if this pans out, perhaps it could be used in conjunction with islet tranplants….

  7. John says:

    Crusader, like I said, I don’t want to squash the good news, but this press release has all the hallmarks of someone wishing away other contributing factors to a complex disease in order to hype their own research. It still looks pretty interesting, and I want to see other labs repeat the results and make their own predictions.

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