Millions of people across the world currently suffer from diabetes – including 20 million in the United States alone. Fortunately, a chemical found in ayahuasca shows promise as a cure.
Diabetes affects its sufferers by preventing insulin production, meaning the body can't very well get energy from food. In particular, it results from a deficiency in the pancreas's beta cells. The chemical harmine, naturally found in ayahuasca, may fix that.
New research published in the journal Nature Medicine – a study led by researchers at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, funded by JDRF and the National Institutes of Health – found that: “Using three different mouse and human islet in vivo–based models, we show that harmine is able to induce beta cell proliferation, increase islet mass and improve glycemic control. These observations suggest that harmine analogs may have unique therapeutic promise for human diabetes therapy.” (source)
Noted Senior study author Andrew Stewart, MD, Director of the Diabetes, Obesity and Metabolism Institute at the Icahn School of Medicine:
“Our results provide a large body of evidence demonstrating that the harmine drug class can make human beta cells proliferate at levels that may be relevant for diabetes treatment. While we still have a lot of work to do in improving the specificity and potency of the harmine and related compounds, we believe these results represent a key step toward more effective future treatment of diabetes.” (source) Beta cell regeneration is believed to be the answer and ultimate cure for diabetes, but we still have a ways to go. Apparently, the next step for researchers is to develop drug candidates that would only target the beta cells. There have also been some promising developments comming out of Harvard Stem Cell Institute (HSCI). Researchers there recently discovered how to make large quantities of insulin producing cells. They are claiming that this breakthrough is just as big as the development of antibiotics, which (although successful) have not come without severe and damaging health consequences.
The stem cell-derived beta cells are currently undergoing clinical trials in animal models, and researchers there are hoping for clinical trials to begin as soon as possible.
In any case, we're excited for what this new finding may mean – and the research yet to come. A cure for diabetes may be just around the corner.
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