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New Vitamin D Therapy Could Lead To Cure For Cancer And Diabetes

May 15, 2018 07:38 AM EDT
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Vitamin D From The Sun
The secret for the cure of chronic disease, diabetes, and even pancreatic cancer may lie in vitamin D treatments. The vitamin can reportedly treat damaged beta cells, which is behind high glucose levels in diabetes.
(Photo : Frederic J. Brown | AFP/Getty Images)

Vitamin D treatments may hold the secret to developing a cure for diabetes and a host of other serious diseases, including cancer.

A new study, which was published in the journal Cell, provides a new treatment for patients with chronic diabetes.

Cutting-Edge Treatment

The new diabetes treatment includes protecting beta cells, which produce, store, and release insulin. Beta cells that get dysfunctional and fail to produce adequate insulin eventually lead to deathly high glucose levels. It turns out that vitamin D can be effective in treating damaged beta cells, the study has revealed.

The team used beta cells created from embryonic stem cells, then discovered the compound iBRD9 that boosted the vitamin D receptors when combined with vitamin D.The combination, which was tested in a mouse model of diabetes, showed that it was able to normalize glucose levels back in the animals.

"Epidemiological studies in patients have suggested a correlation between high vitamin D concentrations in the blood and a lower risk of diabetes, but the underlying mechanism was not well understood. It's been hard to protect beta cells with the vitamin alone," first author Zong Wei explains. "We now have some ideas about how we might be able to take advantage of this connection."

The process makes use of the transcription process, which is how genes are translated into proteins. The new compound triggers protective genes to be translated at a higher level, allowing the survival of cells in a high-stress condition.

"By using a screening system that we developed in the lab, we've been able to identify an important piece of that puzzle that allows for super-activation of the Vitamin D pathway," co-corresponding author Michael Downes adds.

Pancreatic Cancer And Other Diseases

The best part about this new potential treatment is that it's not just limited to treating diabetes. One of the authors of the study, Ruth Yu, calls their method a "universal" one for treatments that benefit from vitamin D.

"For example, we are especially interested in looking at it in pancreatic cancer, which is a disease that our lab already studies," Yu reveals.

A lot more experiments and testing sessions are still in store before patients can reap the potential benefits of vitamin D treatments, but it's a hopeful sign that a cure for chronic diseases exists.

Diabetes In The United States

After all, more than 30 million people are afflicted with diabetes in the United States, and another 84 million adults have prediabetes, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

It's the seventh leading cause of death in the United States.

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