Dimmer switch for type 2 diabetes found in groundbreaking new research

by mfdfadmin on September 24, 2015

Researchers in Canada have identified a molecular pathway that works like a dimmer switch which appears to be lost in type 2 diabetes.

They say that the discovery is a “game changer” in terms of diabetes research as the switch adjusts how much or how little insulin is secreted when blood sugar increases.

hPatrick MacDonald, an associate professor in the University of Alberta’s faculty of medicine, said that the dimmer can be restored and turned back on, reviving proper control of insulin secretion from islet cells of people with type 2 diabetes.

He believes the discovery will lead to a new way of thinking about the disease and its future treatment. “Understanding the islet cells in the pancreas that make insulin, how they work and how they can fail could lead to new ways to treat the disease, delaying or even preventing diabetes,” he explained.

The researchers examined pancreatic islet cells from 99 human organ donors and identified a new molecular pathway that manages the amount of insulin produced by the pancreatic cells.

MacDonald believes the key to his latest research has been access to the Alberta Diabetes Institute’s IsletCore. The biobank, established with funding from the Alberta Diabetes Foundation and the University of Alberta, collects pancreatic islets from organ donors with and without diabetes for diabetes research in Edmonton and across North America.

“Without access to this critical tissue through the Alberta Diabetes Institute IsletCore and the generosity of organ donors and their families, we would not have been able to carry out this study,” MacDonald said.

“If we want to learn about diabetes, and how to treat and prevent it, studying the insulin producing cells from donors with diabetes is a powerful way to do it,” he added.

Although important new strides in the fight against type 2 diabetes have been taken, MacDonald stresses that much more needs to be done. The ability to restore and fix the dimmer switch in islet cells may have been proven on a molecular level, but finding a way to translate those findings into clinical use could yet take decades.

Despite this, MacDonald believes the findings show an important new way forward.
“We don’t know enough to stop type 2 diabetes yet, but this is a large step towards understanding whatís going wrong in the first place,” he pointed out.

The opinions expressed in this article do not necessarily reflect the views of the DiabetesForum.com Community and should not be interpreted as medical advice. Please see your doctor before making any changes to your diabetes management plan.

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