Our bod­ies may cure them­selves of di­a­betes in the fu­ture

Sunday Trust - - NEWS / HEALTH - Source: sci­encedaily.com

Di­a­betes is caused by dam­aged or non-ex­ist­ing in­sulin cells in­abil­ity to pro­duce in­sulin, a hor­mone that is nec­es­sary in reg­u­lat­ing blood sugar lev­els. Many di­a­betes pa­tients take in­sulin sup­ple­ments to reg­u­late these lev­els.

In col­lab­o­ra­tion with other in­ter­na­tional re­searchers, re­searchers at the Univer­sity of Ber­gen have, dis­cov­ered that glucagon.pro­duc­ing cells in the pan­creas, can change iden­tity and adapt so that they do the job for their neigh­bour­ing dam­aged or miss­ing in­sulin cells.

“We are pos­si­bly fac­ing the start of a to­tally new form of treat­ment for di­a­betes, where the body can pro­duce its own in­sulin, with some start-up help,” says Re­searcher Luiza Ghila at the Raeder Re­search Lab, Depart­ment of Clin­i­cal Sci­ence, Univer­sity of Ber­gen (UiB). Cells can change iden­tity The re­searchers dis­cov­ered that only about 2 per cent the neigh­bour­ing cells in the pan­creas could change iden­tity. How­ever, event that amount makes the re­searchers are op­ti­mistic about po­ten­tial new treat­ment ap­proaches.

For the first time in his­tory, re­searchers were able to de­scribe the mech­a­nisms be­hind the process of cell iden­tity. It turns out that this is not at pas­sive process, but is a re­sult of sig­nals from the sur­round­ing cells. In the study, re­searchers were able to in­crease the num­ber of in­sulin pro­duc­ing cells to 5 per cent, by us­ing a drug that in­flu­enced the in­ter-cell sig­nalling process. Thus far, the re­sults have only been shown in an­i­mal mod­els.

“If we gain more knowl­edge about the mech­a­nisms be­hind this cell flex­i­bil­ity, then we could pos­si­bly be able to con­trol the process and change more cells’ iden­ti­ties so that more in­sulin can be pro­duced,” Ghila ex­plains.

Pos­si­ble new treat­ment against cell death

Ac­cord­ing to the re­searchers, the new dis­cov­er­ies is not only good news for di­a­betes treat­ment.

“The cells’ abil­ity to change iden­tity and func­tion, may be a de­ci­sive dis­cov­ery in treat­ing other dis­eases caused by cell death, such as Alzheimer’s dis­ease and cel­lu­lar dam­age due to heart at­tacks,” says Luiza Ghila.

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