Researchers find that a chemical injection reverses type 1 diabetes in mice

People who have type 1 diabetes are familiar with injections. Many of them use insulin shots multiple times throughout the day in order to maintain healthy blood glucose levels.

While this type of treatment may not seem ideal, some older individuals who developed type 1 diabetes before the discovery of insulin injections say that they have been the greatest advancement in diabetes care.

However, a new type of injection has been shown to treat and even reverse the conditions that lead to type 1 diabetes in laboratory rodents.

According to a study published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, a chemical naturally produced in the pancreas called gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) was able to help restore insulin-producing beta cells in mice with type 1 diabetes and stop the rodents' immune systems from attacking new cells.

"The body's immune reaction against its own insulin-producing cells is responsible for most of the damage that leads to the development of type 1 diabetes. This exciting observation may open up new avenues for the prevention and treatment of type 1 diabetes in humans," said Dr Gary F. Lewis.

The researchers noted that GABA injections will have to be proven safe and effective in human trials before they are accepted as a form of type 1 diabetes treatment.

Individuals who have type 1 diabetes make up only 5 percent of the more than 25 million diabetic Americans, the American Diabetes Association reports.

Some patients who prefer not to take insulin injections may consider using an insulin pump, which delivers continuous low doses of the hormone throughout the day and is attached to an individual's hip.

However, people with type 1 diabetes who choose this option must still check their blood glucose levels regularly in order to avoid instances of hyperglycemia or hypoglycemia.