London: Insulin, which plays a key role in managing blood sugar, also has potential against colitis -- a chronic bowel inflammation, finds a study.
The study, conducted on mice, showed that chronic bowel inflammation can be treated effectively by injecting insulin into the rectum.
Insulin works because it activates a gene inside the bowel cells, which has an antioxidant effect and thus may be able to protect the bowel cells from inflammation.
"Existing treatments attack the bowel's immune system, dampening it, instead our method strengthens the bowel cells' own defence. It appears to work equally well, and it can probably be used in combination with existing treatments," said Jorgen Olsen, Professor at the University of Copenhagen in Denmark.
For the study, published in the scientific Journal of Crohn's and Colitis, the team examined the effect of the treatment in a series of tests on mice with chronic colitis of the type Colitis Ulcerosa.
The cause of these bowel disorders is unknown but they cause patients great discomfort and can involve bloody diarrhoea, anaemia, stomach ache and weight loss.
The researchers have studied the effect of the insulin treatment in various ways.
The team found that treatment with insulin led to a 50 per cent drop in the amount of inflammation, compared to the saltwater control treatment.
Further, the mice also lost 15-20 per cent less weight than the control group and importantly, they gained weight 50 per cent faster, following the treatment.
Based on the positive results, the researchers will now test the treatment in clinical trials on humans.