A new technology that uses ultrasound to stimulate the release of insulin into the body of mice was developed by a group of researchers at George Washington University in Washington. The technique involves exposure of the pancreas to ultrasound from outside the body, a technique that stimulates the production of insulin that then circulates in the bloodstream.
This technique, presented at the 177th meeting of the Acoustical Society of America in Louisville, USA, was defined as “an important first step in stimulating endocrine tissue” by Tania Singh, lead author of the study.
Until now ultrasound has been used more as a diagnostic tool, for example during pregnancy, but significant technical advances in the field have also led to possible use in the therapeutic field, for example for the treatment of kidney stones or for in-depth analysis of Parkinson’s disease.
However, this is the first time that ultrasound has been proposed to treat diabetes. Early experiments in mice have shown significant increases in insulin levels after ultrasound therapy that mimic those drugs that help beta cells, i.e. cells specializing in the pancreas for insulin production, to produce insulin.
However, since the pancreas has other properties and also plays other roles in the human body, researchers hope to use this technique for other purposes, such as the release of antagonist hormones and digestive enzymes, as Singh herself points out.