Diabetic? Then avoid potatoes. That is an advice all diabetics receive. But now, scientists have taken a step towards 'making' potatoes that could, one day, help prevent diabetes. Transgenic - genetically modified - potatoes that produce large amounts of auto-antigens have been suggested as potential vaccines for suppressing the development of diabetes, a condition that affects millions of people the world over. These vaccines will work by do"regulating immune cells in a diabetic's body that attack specialised insulin-producing cells in the pancreas. The problem is getting enough auto-antigens into the body to saturate the immune system and suppress auto-immune responses. The researchers have created a potato-based insulin vaccine that is almost 100 times more potent than previous vaccines in down-regulating diabetes in mice (Nature Biotechnology, Vol 16, No 9).
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