Could we potentially cure diabetes?
Diabetes has always been a concern especially in a country like India. However, there is some good news for all the diabetic patients. Recently, a study has suggested a mechanism that could convert certain cells into Insulin-making cells
As we all know, people develop diabetes because of the lack of pancreatic beta cells to produce the insulin which in turn is necessary to regulate their blood sugar levels.
Researchers from UCLA's Larry L. Hillblom Islet Research Center have taken an important step in that direction. They report in the April issue of the journal Developmental Cell that they may have discovered the underlying mechanism that could convert other cell types into pancreatic beta cells.
The current treatment for diabetes -- insulin therapy -- helps patients maintain sugar levels. However, many patients remain at high risk of developing a variety of medical complications. Replenishing lost beta cells could serve as a more permanent solution, both for those who have lost such cells due to an immune assault (Type 1 diabetes) and those who acquire diabetes later in life due to insulin resistance (Type 2). "Our work shows that beta cells and related endocrine cells can easily be converted into each other," said study co-author Dr. Anil Bhushan, an associate professor of medicine in the endocrinology division at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA and in the UCLA Department of Molecular, Cell and Developmental Biology. The UCLA researchers show that chemical tags called "methyl groups" that bind to DNA -- where they act like a volume knob, turning up or down the activity of certain genes -- are crucial to understanding how cells can be converted into insulin-secreting beta cells. They show that DNA methylation keeps ARX, a gene that triggers the formation of glucagon-secreting alpha cells in the embryonic pancreas, silent in beta cells.