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expert reaction to study looking at diabetes and a fasting-mimicking diet in mice, and in human cells

A study published in Cell looks at how a fasting-mimicking diet promotes the reprogramming of pancreatic cells to restore insulin generation in mouse models.


Prof. Anne Cooke, Professor of Immunobiology, University of Cambridge, said:

“This is a very interesting and well done study in mice with findings that may in future have implications for the treatment of people suffering from type 2 diabetes and also potentially type 1 diabetes.

“Through dietary manipulations in mice which mimic periods of fasting with reduction in the protein and carbohydrate intake the authors show these mice had improved function of the insulin producing pancreatic beta cell together with improved control of blood glucose, and also showed some evidence of regeneration of destroyed cells.  These findings in preclinical mouse models were also supported by in vitro studies using human islets from control individuals and also those from individuals with type 1 diabetes cultured in the presence of serum from individuals on a low protein, low calorie diet.

“We will need to see from future studies whether the observed effects in mice are restricted to the pancreas and are not affecting other tissues such as adipose tissue.  It will also be important to determine whether such effects are retained in a preclinical model of autoimmune (type 1) diabetes.

“So, this is good science and does give promise for the future treatment of diabetes, but we need further studies to see whether this works in people as well as it has in mice.”


* ‘Fasting-mimicking diet promotes Ngn3-driven b-cell regeneration to reverse diabetes’ by Chia-Wei Cheng et al. published in Cell on Thursday 23 February 2017. 


Declared interests

Prof. Anne Cooke: “I can confirm that I have no conflict of interests.”

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