A Probiotic a Day

pillImagine a daily pill that can help control diabetes using the body’s own insulin. John March, associate professor of biological and environmental engineering, and collaborators have achieved this feat in rats using an engineered probiotic. Their special strain of Lactobacillus produces a protein that triggers insulin release, and diabetic rats given a daily dose for three months had up to 30 percent lower blood glucose levels than untreated rats. The probiotic converted a fraction of the cells on the inside surface of the rats’ upper intestine—approximately 1 in 1,600—into insulin-pumping pancreatic mimics. The technology is being licensed to BioPancreate, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Cortendo AB, a biopharmaceutical company incorporated in Sweden and based in Radnor, Pa., which will refine the therapy for human use.