Keeping blood sugar at a healthy level is a daunting task for many people with type 2 diabetes, involving regular monitoring and insulin injections, but scientists are looking for easier ways to manage the condition. A team of researchers at the University of Iowa has created a “remote control” called Managing Diabetes, which uses electromagnetic fields to lower blood sugar levels and improve the body’s response to insulin.
While this may seem far-fetched, the idea of using “remote controls” and electromagnetic fields to manage diabetes is one of the exploration methods we’ve seen before. Back in 2014, scientists demonstrated how these waves open ion channels in cell membranes, allowing specific genes to be turned on and lowering blood sugar in mice.
The new technology used by researchers at the University of Iowa uses a completely different mechanism, actually achieved with some good luck. The scientists borrowed some of the diabetic mice being used by another group of scientists as part of their study of the effects of electromagnetic fields on the brain and made an interesting observation.
“It’s really weird because normally these animals have high blood sugar and type 2 diabetes, but all animals exposed to EMFs show normal blood sugar levels,” said study co-lead author Sunny Huang. “I told Calvin (co-lead author Calvin Carter) that ‘something strange has happened here.'”
To investigate the matter further, the team turned to previous studies of the biological effects of electromagnetic fields from a variety of sources, including telecommunications infrastructure, mobile devices, and the Earth itself.
“These literatures point to a quantum biological phenomenon in which electromagnetic fields may interact with specific molecules, ” Carter said. “There are molecules in our bodies that are thought to be like tiny magnetic antennas that cause electromagnetic fields to react biologically. Some of these molecules are oxidants and have been studied in redox biology, a field of study involving electron and active molecular behavior that controls the metabolism of cells. “
The team turned their attention to a molecule known to play a role in type 2 diabetes, called superoxides, to study its activity in mouse models of type 2 diabetes. For several hours a day, the team applied electromagnetic fields to three different types of mouse models that appeared to alter the signaling of superoxide molecules in the liver. This, in turn, rebalances oxidants and antioxidants in the organs, improving the animals’ response to insulin and lowering their blood sugar.
“We’ve built a remote control to manage diabetes,” Carter said. “Exposure to electromagnetic fields in a relatively short period of time can lower blood sugar and normalize the body’s response to insulin. The effect is long-lasting, opening up the possibility of electromagnetic field therapy that can be applied during sleep to manage diabetes throughout the day. “
The team also tested the technique on human liver cells. After six hours of electromagnetic field therapy, the researchers were able to show a significant improvement in insulin sensitivity, a promising sign that the therapy could have the same effect in human subjects.
For its next step, however, the team is working on techniques in large animals that are closer in size and physiology to humans.
“Our dream is to create a new class of non-invasive drugs that remotely control cells to fight disease,” Carter said.
The study was published in the journal Cell Metabolism.