The Diabetes Research Foundation and the Diabetes Fund are donating 1 million euros to the Amsterdam UMC to continue research into the role of intestinal bacteria in type 1 diabetes, both organizations report in a press release on Thursday morning.
Previous research shows that a poo transplant may play an important role in the fight against the disease. In the Netherlands, about 120,000 people have type 1 diabetes. They have to administer themselves insulin to regulate the amount of blood sugar.
Bacteria, yeasts and viruses in the gut might make the immune system less aggressive towards its own body. In patients with type 1 diabetes, the immune system shuts down cells that normally produce insulin, a reaction that cannot be stopped at the moment.
Professor of internal medicine and researcher Max Nieuwdorp has previously conducted exploratory research into the transfer of intestinal bacteria via a faecal transplant, in order to “polish up” the function of the pancreas. The pancreas normally produces substances that balance blood sugar levels. The stool is delivered in diluted form through a tube in the nose to the intestines. The recipient does not smell, taste or experience pain.
Follow-up study takes about five years
The research team led by Nieuwdorp and internist Nordin Hanssen will now see whether the use of intestinal bacteria further weakens the immune system’s immune response. A total of three studies are being set up, which will take about five years.
Nieuwdorp hopes that the technique will make type 1 diabetes a “more stable disease” by reducing the amount of glucose peaks and troughs. Ideally, the research will lead to a new treatment and hopefully a cure, the health expert said.