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Getting Under the Skin

January 11, 2024
Contributed by: Reid Stephan
Summary
Alberto Hayek, an emeritus professor at the University of California San Diego School of Medicine, is teaming up with John Glass from the J. Craig Venter Institute to engineer skin microbes into glucose monitors and insulin factories in the body. The project aims to tackle the increasing issue of diabetes, which affects approximately 8.4 million people in the U.S. While insulin treats symptoms of diabetes, use of engineered bacterial therapeutics, through skin microbes, could not only monitor glucose but also produce required insulin. The therapy would involve a gene instructing skin bacterium Staphylococcus epidermidis, found in almost everybody, to secrete insulin in response to high blood sugar levels. A subsequent, optional insulin lotion could be applied to the skin, further diffusing the bacteria into the bloodstream.
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