Dr. Ron Piran: Improving Treatment for Diabetics

At BIU’s Azrieli Faculty of Medicine in the Galilee, Dr.Ron Piran is working on a new treatment method that could improve the condition and quality of life of diabetic patients. Diabetes is a condition where thebody does not produce enough insulin because of beta-cell destruction,”explains Piran. “Since insulin is the substance that allows glucose entry into the cells, they are deprived of food and energy. A side effect is an increase in blood sugar levels. In extreme cases, this may cause gangrene of certain organs,arteriosclerosis, renal failure, strokes and more.”

In his lab Piran revitalizes the beta-cells that create insulin in the pancreas by based on a toxin found in the Australian tree frog. Caerulein transforms the alpha-cells, also found in the pancreas, into insulin-producing beta-cells. The efficacy of this drug which Piran discovered has already been proven but there are negative side effects. “What we are working on is improving the treatment and reducing the severe side effects of the toxin.”

This specific portion of diabetes research is very significant,” explains Dr. Piran, “because if we are able to regenerate beta-cells, patients could be completely healed of the disease.” The implications of this research could mean that one day the world may be diabetes free.