Million euros for promising poo research into diabetes

Someone’s healthy poop has been used for poo transplants for years. There is now hope that this could play an even more critical role in the fight against diabetes 1.

Researchers from Amsterdam UMC receive 1 million euros from the Diabetes Fund and the Diabetes Onderzoek Nederland foundation for research into the role of intestinal bacteria in type 1 diabetes, both organizations have announced. Previous research showed that a faecal transplant could possibly play an important role in the fight against the disease that 120,000 Dutch people suffer from.

The intestines contain many bacteria, yeasts and viruses, the so-called microbiome. This appears to play a role in sugar metabolism and the immune system. People with type 1 diabetes have a different microbiome composition. Their immune system in the intestines also looks different.

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Healthy poo

With a faecal transplant, people with type 1 diabetes receive healthy poop from a donor. The stool is cleared of food residues and goes in diluted form to the intestines with a probe in the nose. It is painless and the recipient does not smell or taste it.

In other mammals very different poo tests are done.

Diabetes poop screening

Type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune disease in which the immune system switches off the cells that produce insulin. People with type 1 diabetes have to self-administer insulin to regulate blood sugar. The immune response cannot be stopped yet. Based on their previous work, a research team led by Max Nieuwdorp and Nordin Hanssen will now further investigate whether the immune response is weakened via intestinal bacteria. The new research will take five years.

“We want to ‘polish up’ the function of the pancreas of people with type 1 diabetes through a poo transplant,” says Nieuwdorp. This could give a patient a more stable disease, with fewer glucose peaks and troughs and therefore fewer diabetes complications. Ultimately, this could potentially lead to new treatment, and hopefully a cure or reversal of type 1 diabetes, even if people have had the disease for some time. “I am very optimistic about this.”

Poo transplants are also used for other treatments.