New Type of Insulin-Producing Cell Discovered
Possible new route to regenerating function lost in diabetes
In people with type I diabetes, insulin-producing beta cells in the pancreas die and are not replaced. Without these cells, the body loses the ability to control blood glucose. Researchers at the University of California, Davis have now discovered a possible new route to regenerating beta cells, giving insight into the basic mechanisms behind healthy metabolism and diabetes. Eventually, such research could lead to better treatment or cures for diabetes.
“We’ve seen phenomenal advances in the management of diabetes, but we cannot cure it,” said Mark Huising, assistant professor of neurobiology, physiology and behavior in the UC Davis College of Biological Sciences. “If you want to cure the disease, you have to understand how it works in the normal situation.”
Huising is senior author on a paper on the work published April 4 in the journal Cell Metabolism.
Working with both laboratory mice and human tissue, Huising is studying how the cells in the islets of Langerhans in the pancreas work together to regulate blood glucose. In both mice and people, the islets contain beta cells, which detect glucose and secrete insulin, and other cell types including alpha cells that produce glucagon, a hormone that raises blood sugar. The opposite effects of insulin and glucagon enable the body to regulate blood sugars and store nutrients.
Type I diabetes is a disease with two parts. Firstly, the beta cells are killed by the body’s own immune system, and then they fail to regenerate (or those that do are killed). An eff Continue reading