In a new study between departments at the University of Copenhagen and Roskilde University, researchers examined the effect of the treatment in a series of tests on mice with chronic colitis of the type Colitis Ulcerosa, among others.
The cause of these bowel disorders is unknown, but they cause patients great discomfort and can cause bloody diarrhea, anaemia, stomach ache, and weight loss.
Co-inventor of the treatment, Jørgen Olsen said, "Our new treatment with insulin on mice shows great potential against chronic bowel inflammation in humans like Colitis Ulcerosa, which causes a lot of people great discomfort. Existing treatments attack the bowel's immune system, dampening it; instead, our method strengthens the bowel cells' own defence. It appears to work equally well, and it can probably be used in combination with existing treatments."
The researchers have studied the effect of insulin treatment in various ways. First, they have shown that the amount of inflammation, expressed as the level of the marker Cox2, drops by 50 per cent compared to the saltwater control treatment.
Second, the researchers have measured the body weight of the mice - we know that people suffering from colitis typically lose a lot of weight because they do not eat much. As this marker is relatively crude, some studies of the existing treatment have shown no effect at all.
The insulin works because it activates a gene inside the bowel cells, which, according to other studies, has an antioxidant effect and thus may be able to protect the bowel cells from inflammation. This makes the new treatment different from existing medication, which instead of strengthening the bowel's defence weakens the immune system's attack on the bowel. And therefore the researchers hope the new treatment can be combined with the existing.
The full findings are present in the Journal of Crohn's and Colitis....