Scientists able to make cells able to release insulin a possible breakthrough in diabetes therapy
Both type 1 and type 2, or adult onset, diabetes involve either an inability to produce or properly process the insulin necessary to control blood sugar levels.
|Diabetes or Diabetes Mellitus (DM) is a group of metabolic diseases in which there will be high levels of blood sugar over a long period if the disease is not controlled. If the high blood levels persist there can be serious long-term complications including heart problems, stroke, kidney failure, foot ulcers and eye damage. The disease can be due to the pancreas not producing enough insulin or the failure of the body to able to use the insulin produced. Type 1 is a result of failure of the pancreas to produce enough insulin. Treatment is through insulin injections. The cause is not known. Type 2 involves insulin resistance in which the body does not respond to insulin. However, as the disease develops there may be a shortage of insulin as well. Although it often occurs in obese people or those who do not exercise enough, there can be other causes. The third type is gestational diabetes in which there are high blood sugar levels in pregnant women. Usually the problem corrects itself after birth. Type 1 is managed with insulin injections. In the early stages Type 2 may be helped by diet and exercise but often oral medications are used as well. Insulin can also be used, especially in later stages or if moral medications cease working.|
The Salk scientists found a protein switch – one of several transcription factors in a beta cell – called ERR-gamma that makes the lab-grown cells more responsive to glucose and gets them releasing insulin at a normal rate. This ERR-gamma switch appears to be the master regulator for maturing glucose-responsive beta cells.Transcription factors are described here. The researchers were able to test their discovery by transplanting mature beta cells into Type 1, insulin dependent, diabetic mice with the ERR-gamma switch on. Two months after this transplantation, about half of the diabetic mice showed normal blood glucose levels.