A diet designed to imitate the effects of fasting appears to reverse diabetes by reprogramming cells, a new USC-led study shows.

The fasting-like diet promotes the growth of new insulin-producing that reduce symptoms of type 1 and type 2 diabetes in mice, according to the study on mice and led by Valter Longo, director of the Longevity Institute at the USC Leonard Davis School of Gerontology.

“Cycles of a fasting-mimicking diet and a normal diet essentially reprogrammed non-insulin-producing into ,” said Longo, who is also a professor of biological sciences at the USC Dornsife College of Letters, Arts and Sciences. “By activating the regeneration of pancreatic cells, we were able to rescue mice from late-stage type 1 and type 2 diabetes. We also reactivated in human pancreatic cells from type 1 diabetes patients.”

The reprogrammed adult cells and organs prompted a regeneration in which damaged cells were replaced with new functional ones, he said.

The study published on Feb. 23 in the journal Cell, is the latest in a series of studies to demonstrate promising health benefits of a brief, periodic diet that mimics the effects of a water-only fast.

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