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Insulin gene therapy from design to beta cell generation

  • Ahter D. Sanlioglu (a1) (a2), Hasan Ali Altunbas (a1) (a3), Mustafa Kemal Balci (a1) (a3), Thomas S. Griffith (a4) and Salih Sanlioglu (a1) (a2)...

Despite the fact that insulin injection can protect diabetic patients from developing diabetes-related complications, recent meta-analyses indicate that rapid and long-acting insulin analogues only provide a limited benefit compared with conventional insulin regarding glycemic control. As insulin deficiency is the main sequel of type-1 diabetes (T1D), transfer of the insulin gene-by-gene therapy is becoming an attractive treatment modality even though T1D is not caused by a single genetic defect. In contrast to human insulin and insulin analogues, insulin gene therapy targets to supplement patients not only with insulin but also with C-peptide. So far, insulin gene therapy has had limited success because of delayed and/or transient gene expression. Sustained insulin gene expression is now feasible using current gene-therapy vectors providing patients with basal insulin coverage, but management of postprandial hyperglycaemia is still difficult to accomplish because of the inability to properly control insulin secretion. Enteroendocrine cells of the gastrointestinal track (K cells and L cells) may be ideal targets for insulin gene therapy, but cell-targeting difficulties have limited practical implementation of insulin gene therapy for diabetes treatment. Therefore, recent gene transfer technologies developed to generate authentic beta cells through transdifferentiation are also highlighted in this review.

Corresponding author
*Corresponding author: Salih Sanlioglu VMD, Human Gene and Cell Therapy Center, Akdeniz University Hospitals and Clinics, B Block, 1st Floor, Campus, Antalya, Turkey. Email:
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