June 25, 1999
Question from San Jose, California, USA:
I heard that there is an on going study that is and was being conducted on insulin and our pancreas. The study stated that our pancreas produces this protein naturally (I recall that they were calling it S3 protein). This protein helps the body refresh itself, and the reason why diabetics deteriorate over time is because they are not getting the S3 protein because the insulin does not have it in it. They stated they were testing insulin with S3 protein and it reversed all of the side effects of diabetes. Have you heard of the testing? And if so what is the status? And when will they be adding S3 protein to insulin?
I have not heard of the protein S3 and neither had our Director of Research who is an expert in the field. Having said this, let me add that there is a great deal of research going on into factors that affect the development and maturation of islet cells and into other factors like adhesion molecules that ensure that mature islets can secrete insulin. When you think about it though, it would probably not be appropriate to administer these factors in the insulin. The huge cost aside, even if it worked it would be equivalent to an islet cell transplant from an identical twin and we know that these don’t succeed because the autoimmune process would destroy the regenerated tissue. Don’t give up hope, though, because other work is exploring how the target cell surfaces can be made resistant to autoimmunity. Meantime, the field is of considerable interest in relation to maldevelopment and overdevelopment of islet tissue.