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Authors Alam T, Wai P, Held D, Vakili ST, Forsberg E, Sollinger H
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Journal PLoS ONE Volume: 8 Issue: 6 Pages: e67515
Publish Date 2013
PubMed ID 23826312
PMC ID 3694888

Type 1 diabetes mellitus (T1DM) is caused by immune destruction of insulin-producing pancreatic β-cells. Commonly used insulin injection therapy does not provide a dynamic blood glucose control to prevent long-term systemic T1DM-associated damages. Donor shortage and the limited long-term success of islet transplants have stimulated the development of novel therapies for T1DM. Gene therapy-based glucose-regulated hepatic insulin production is a promising strategy to treat T1DM. We have developed gene constructs which cause glucose-concentration-dependent human insulin production in liver cells. A novel set of human insulin expression constructs containing a combination of elements to improve gene transcription, mRNA processing, and translation efficiency were generated as minicircle DNA preparations that lack bacterial and viral DNA. Hepatocytes transduced with the new constructs, ex vivo, produced large amounts of glucose-inducible human insulin. In vivo, insulin minicircle DNA (TA1m) treated streptozotocin (STZ)-diabetic rats demonstrated euglycemia when fasted or fed, ad libitum. Weight loss due to uncontrolled hyperglycemia was reversed in insulin gene treated diabetic rats to normal rate of weight gain, lasting ∼1 month. Intraperitoneal glucose tolerance test (IPGT) demonstrated in vivo glucose-responsive changes in insulin levels to correct hyperglycemia within 45 minutes. A single TA1m treatment raised serum albumin levels in diabetic rats to normal and significantly reduced hypertriglyceridemia and hypercholesterolemia. Elevated serum levels of aspartate transaminase, alanine aminotransferase, and alkaline phosphatase were restored to normal or greatly reduced in treated rats, indicating normalization of liver function. Non-viral insulin minicircle DNA-based TA1m mediated glucose-dependent insulin production in liver may represent a safe and promising approach to treat T1DM.

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