This would be quite a significant advance. The procedure of applying the skin grafts is safe, minimally invasive, inexpensive, and easy to monitor. Also, the patient is not required to administer their own ongoing treatment.
In his study, two groups of mice were fed a high-fat diet. One group had the skin grafts, while the other did not. The mice which had undergone the gene therapy gained only half as much weight as those which had not. Also, this group of mice developed less resistance to insulin. Note that resistance to insulin can be a symptom which commonly precedes Type-2 diabetes.
Skin transplant is easy to make with cultured skin stem cells, and has been used clinically for treatment of burn wounds for decades. In this study, we took advantage of this well established platform and showed that skin transplant with engineered skin stem cells can be used to deliver therapeutic proteins for treatment of obesity and diabetes. In animal models, we have shown that this technology can reduce body weight gain and inhibit Type-2 diabetes development.
This is certainly a useful discovery. Hopefully, with this and other diabetes-related projects, we are getting closer to finding a more permanent way to improve lives for millions of people worldwide who suffer from diabetes.