Novel Diabetes Treatment


Current therapies for type 1 diabetes (T1D) involve insulin replacement or transplantation of insulinsecreting tissue. These approaches have led to tremendous improvements in patient quality of life, but have not yet produced a cure. Piston and colleagues have data which suggests that long-term correction of T1D is possible without insulin treatment, through treatment with brown fat.


There are currently 25.8 million children and adults living with Diabetes in America. Two primary therapies for T1D currently exist: insulin replacement shots, or transplantation of either insulinsecreting tissue or entire pancreas. When monitored carefully, the maintenance therapy with insulin is a good method to keep diabetes at bay. However it does not eliminate complications that may include cardiovascular disease, diabetic neuropath, diabetic retinopathy and coma.

A novel alternative treatment has recently been discovered and explored by Dave Piston. In rodent models for Diabetes, transfusion of isolated [embryonic] brown adipose tissue has had success in returning the rodents to normal of glucose tolerance, and in many, no reversal to a diabetic state over the course of the studies (see graph to right). This provides a direct alternative to insulin derived treatments, and, as Dr. Piston has shown, this effect is insulinogenic independent. Current studies with the laboratory of Dr. Piston are focused on characterizing the molecular mechanism behind this phenomenon.

Patents and further reading

A utility patent application has been fi led. For additional reading, please see the recent publication by Gunawardana et al in Diabetes.


David Piston
Licensing manager: 
Mike Villalobos

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