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Type one diabetes has been in my family for a few generations. As a carrier and having a mother with the disorder, I've done a lot of research on it. As I am completing my High school Biology course, I've gotte a better understanding of how the disorder may be treated. (Stem cell therapy, gene replacement, etc). Here's a hypothetical scenario: Scientists develop a modified virus that contains a normal person's beta cell genetic makeup, injects it into the pancreas, and reproduces. The virus and beta cells reproduce, and the body detects the virus, but not the beta cells. (or neither, and the virus is not harmful). The beta cells create insulin, and the Diabetes is cured. Would this work, and would this hurt the immune system? Would it be possible for the scientists to blunder and either create too potent a virus or too much of the virus?

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  • $\begingroup$ A virus is much smaller than a cell. It cannot carry a cell into the pancreas. Just infecting the pancreas with a virus carrying a gene or two (DNA) for islet cells wouldn't do anything worthwhile, and might damage the pancreas. That's why stem cells (whole cells) hold potential. $\endgroup$ – anongoodnurse Apr 9 '18 at 16:46
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High school biology apparently failed to teach you that many conditions, like type I diabetes are not classically Mendelian. The term "carrier" does not apply to you...you are just someone with a predilection who hasn't developed the condition (but who might...I have heard of someone developing type I diabetes in college)

Scientists develop a modified virus that contains a normal person's beta cell genetic makeup,

How much DNA do you think you can cram into a virus? Not having the right beta cell DNA is almost certainly not the cause of type I diabetes, anyway.

The virus and beta cells reproduce, and the body detects the virus, but not the beta cells.

How do you think the immune system responds when it detects a virus? Hint, it kills the hosting cell.

A virus that induced a small percentage of pancreatic alpha cells to undifferentiate and redifferentiate beta cells might work...but you would still have the same immune system that went agro on your beta cells the first time. They might do the same when exposed to new beta cells. And there is a fine line between undiffernetiated cells and cancerous cells.

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  • $\begingroup$ This might strike some as ironic, but -1 for the hostility. If you think a question is stupid, bypass it, or DV/VTC it, or comment, but an answer like this one ("High school biology apparently failed to teach you ...", "How much DNA do you think...", "How do you think the immune system responds...", "Hint..." is pretty rude. I sure hope you don't teach students anywhere. $\endgroup$ – anongoodnurse Apr 9 '18 at 22:09
  • $\begingroup$ When someone says "Well, I've done lots of research and I don't understand why scientists who are supposed to be experts haven't tried this obvious thing that my research told me should work". That's a little hostile to the intelligence and integrity of people who do work on researching diabetes for a living. $\endgroup$ – swbarnes2 Apr 10 '18 at 18:27
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    $\begingroup$ That's nonsense. With that attitude, as a scientist and a physician, I would be continually insulted by people who don't have my experience. People have ideas and opinions that are ill informed. We are all confident idiots. You can go through life offended or just accept it as a reality. $\endgroup$ – anongoodnurse Apr 11 '18 at 5:09

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