New measure of insulin-making cells could gauge diabetes progression, treatment
Researchers at the University of Wisconsin–Madison have developed a new measurement for the volume and activity of beta cells, the source of the sugar-regulating hormone insulin.
In a study published in the August edition of the journal Diabetes, Weibo Cai, Matthew J. Merrins and colleagues used a PET scanner to detect minute levels of a radioactive chemical in the mouse pancreas. Cai, the senior author of the study and an associate professor of radiology, says that unlike previous methods for measuring the quantity of beta cells, the new test also measures how actively these cells are making insulin.
PET scanning, or positron emission tomography, is used to detect minute quantities of tracers, commonly for finding cancer and metastases. This area is a specialty of Cai. Cai says the test may be used to evaluate treatments or cell transplants intended to slow or reverse diabetes.
With a provisional patent filed through the Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation, Cai has begun planning a series of human trials that could lead to Food and Drug Administration clearance for a new method to determine the quantity and condition of the beta cells. The first step in these trials would look at the distribution and potential toxicity of the radioactive manganese chloride used as a tracer.
A shortage of insulin, due to the death or inactivity of the beta cells, causes type I (formerly “juvenile“) diabetes. The same problem can also cause type II diabetes. But this condition, once called “adult onset” diabetes, can also result from insufficient response to insulin. “In some co Continue reading