A PROBIOTIC pill developed at Cornell University sent glucose levels plummeting by as much as 30% in diabetic rats.

Researchers who took part in the study engineered a strain of lactobacillus — commonly found in the gut — that secretes a Glucagon-like peptide 1 (GLP-1).

The science-born probiotic was administered orally to the rats for 90 days, resulting in favourable dips in high blood glucose levels.

Under the influence of the medication, the rats appeared to have a normally functioning pancreas, says senior author John March, a biological and environmental engineering professor at Cornell.

Epithelial cells — capable of secretion and selective absorption — in the upper intestine converted themselves into cells that acted like glucose-monitoring, insulin-secreting pancreatic beta cells.

“It’s moving the centre of glucose control from the pancreas to the upper intestine,” March describes.

It was tested on healthy rats, and no change in blood glucose levels resulted.

Technology to complete the study was licensed by BioPancreate, a subsidiary of Cortendo AB that’s incorporated in Sweden and based in Radnor, Pennsylvania.

The paper was published in the journal Diabetes.

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