Video: Could lettuce cure diabetes?

Mike Beckman has had to test his blood every day for the past 34 years to manage his diabetes.

"It's with you every day," he said.

It's taken a toll. He's had bleeding in his eyes, a heart attack, nerve damage and now, both of his kidneys are failing.

"I have a very young daughter. I'd like to see her grow up and see grandchildren," he said.

Soon, researcher Henry Daniell may have an answer and it could come from lettuce.

"So this is a totally new concept," said Daniell, a molecular biologist at the University of Central Florida.

Dr. Daniell injects the human gene for insulin into leaves of lettuce grown in the lab. The leaves can be ground and put into a capsule.

"What we have done is to teach the body how to cure this disorder," he said.

The lettuce helps the powdered capsule reach the intestine. There, plant cells meet with bacteria and release the insulin. This stimulates an immune response and tells the body to produce its own insulin.

The first test was in animals. After eight weeks, all the diabetic mice had normal blood sugar levels and produced insulin, even after they stopped taking the lettuce.

Dr. daniell has been working to perfect this concept for the past 20 years. He says patients would only have to take the pill for weeks, not months or years.

Human trials will start next year.

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