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Queen’s ‘We Will Rock You’ releases insulin in diabetic mice

Researchers hope this new method can be an easier (and more pleasant) way to make and deliver insulin

September 4 1982. Freddie Mercury of Queen onstage at Vancouver's Pacific Coliseum. Photo by Mark van Manen / Vancouver Sun

Researchers have built designer cells capable of releasing insulin in response to music.

A team of researchers in Switzerland found that playing the song ‘We Will Rock You’ by Queen to mice implanted with the cells saw a 70 per cent increase in insulin within the first five minutes.

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National Post

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“Low-bass heavy popular music and movie soundtracks induced maximum insulin release,” it noted, “whereas responses to classical music and guitar music was more diverse and composition-specific. Environmental noises and speech did not trigger insulin release.”

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The mice were implanted with capsules containing modified pancreatic cells that were sensitive to sound waves. The scientists used human and mice pancreatic cells in two experiments, both of which were a success.

To test their modified cells, researchers played a variety of sounds at different volumes, from classic rock to noises made by lawn mowers, aircraft and speech. The music was played through a speaker held at the mice’s abdomen.

While the environmental noises barely produced a reaction, Queen’s mega-hit, played at 85 decibels, turned out to promote the strongest release. The arena anthem ‘We Will Rock You’ released 70 per cent insulin within five minutes and all of it in 15 minutes, which falls in line with an ordinary pancreatic release. Blood sugar remained high in mice without the implant, or if the music was played far away.

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The modified cells were embedded with sound sensitive bacterial proteins that allow more calcium into them through channels, or cellular gates. The increase in calcium in the cells promoted insulin production, according to the study.

The music-induced insulin release replenished after four hours, which would be enough for type 2 patients “consuming three meals a day,” the study says. However, that’s only if and when the method proves successful in future human trials.

People with diabetes typically are either resistant to or unable to produce the hormone insulin. Those who suffer from the most common form of diabetes, type 2, can be insulin resistant, meaning the glucose isn’t able to penetrate the cells, causing their blood sugar levels to rise.

Insulin for these patients is typically delivered by injection, which is painful and onerous. Researchers are hopeful this new method can be an easier (and more pleasant) way to make and deliver insulin.

Speaking to the Daily Mail, Dr Ali Aldibbiat, a diabetes research associate at Newcastle University, called the research “a novel and very interesting approach.”

“The remaining challenge is to ensure release of insulin is only in response to controlled sounds rather than the background noise,” he added.

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