Diabetic potential to create own insulin

Jun 14, 2010

Researchers from the Peninsula Medical School, working in collaboration with colleagues from Glasgow Royal Infirmary and the University of Brighton, have used a unique collection of pancreas specimens taken from patients who died soon after diagnosis of type 1 diabetes to show that they respond to the ongoing process of destruction by inducing their islet cells to proliferate.

The research is published on-line at Diabetologia and is funded by Juvenile Research Foundation.

The findings are important because, until now, it has been generally believed that, in humans, beta cells divide only very infrequently after the first year or so of life and that they do not readily proliferate once type 1 diabetes is diagnosed. By studying the same unique collection of pancreas specimens that last year led the research team to conclude that some cases of type 1 diabetes may have a viral cause, this current study presents evidence that there is a 10-fold increase in islet cell replication in patients recently diagnosed with type 1 diabetes. A similar response had been seen previously in an of type 1 diabetes by a member of the team, Professor Adrian Bone (University of Brighton) but it was not known if accelerated β-cell replication also occurs in human patients.

The factors that trigger the replication process in patients with type 1 diabetes are still unclear, although the study shows a correlation with the infiltration of immune cells (which suggests that an immune mediator is likely to be involved).

The results of the research offer the hope that, in future, it might be possible to encourage a newly diagnosed type 1 diabetes patient's own beta cells to reproduce as a means of replacing those being destroyed by the disease. The development of such a therapy could mean that some patients with type 1 diabetes would be able to produce their own insulin for a longer period, thereby reducing the need for pharmaceutical interventions.

Professor Noel Morgan, Director of the Institute of Biomedical and Clinical Sciences at the Peninsula Medical School, commented: "Our findings are significant because they challenge current thinking and offer the hope that, at some point in the future, a therapy could be developed that would allow individuals who are developing type 1 diabetes to retain their own insulin. We are a long way from this point, but the first steps have been taken with this research."

He added: "We could not have come to our current conclusions without access to the unique collection of pancreas specimens from patients who died soon after being diagnosed with type 1 diabetes, which was collected by our colleague Dr. Alan Foulis from the Department of Pathology at Glasgow Royal Infirmary. The specimens are allowing us to investigate the cellular processes that occur in the of people with type 1 diabetes in a way that has not been possible before."

Karen Addington, CEO at JDRF said: "Interventions to halt and reverse the onset of type 1 diabetes are a fundamental part of JDRF's objective to cure, treat and prevent type 1 diabetes and its complications, and these results inform our global research programme. These are early stage findings, but we are positive about the impact this could have for people diagnosed with in the future."

Explore further: West Africa's Ebola outbreak prompts changes in I.Coast cuisine

Provided by The Peninsula College of Medicine and Dentistry

4.5 /5 (4 votes)
add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Compounds that trigger beta cell replication identified

Feb 25, 2009

Researchers at the Genomics Institute of the Novartis Research Foundation (GNF) have identified a set of compounds that can trigger the proliferation of insulin-producing cells in the pancreas, using sophisticated high-throughput ...

Viral infection linked to juvenile diabetes

May 24, 2010

Researchers from Italy have found a statistically significant association between enteroviral infection and diagnosis of type-1 diabetes in children. They report their findings today at the 110th General Meeting of the American ...

Recommended for you

Two expats die of MERS in Saudi commercial hub

14 hours ago

Two foreigners died of MERS in the Saudi city of Jeddah, the health ministry said Saturday, as fears rise over the spreading respiratory virus in the kingdom's commercial hub.

UAE reports 12 new cases of MERS

14 hours ago

Health authorities in the United Arab Emirates have announced 12 new cases of infection by the MERS coronavirus, but insisted the patients would be cured within two weeks.

Filipino tests negative for Middle East virus

Apr 19, 2014

A Filipino nurse who tested positive for the Middle East virus has been found free of infection in a subsequent examination after he returned home, Philippine health officials said Saturday.

User comments : 0

More news stories

Less-schooled whites lose longevity, study finds

Barbara Gentry slowly shifts her heavy frame out of a chair and uses a walker to move the dozen feet to a chair not far from the pool table at the Buford Senior Center. Her hair is white and a cough sometimes interrupts her ...

Cancer stem cells linked to drug resistance

Most drugs used to treat lung, breast and pancreatic cancers also promote drug-resistance and ultimately spur tumor growth. Researchers at the University of California, San Diego School of Medicine have discovered ...

Making graphene in your kitchen

Graphene has been touted as a wonder material—the world's thinnest substance, but super-strong. Now scientists say it is so easy to make you could produce some in your kitchen.