diabetes research

Scientists report breakthrough in finding new way to treat diabetes via cells in the pancreas

by Barbara Hewitt on July 31, 2018

A new potential way of treating diabetes has been discovered by scientists working on finding out more about how beta cells work in regulating blood glucose levels.

They have revealed that one of the building blocks in the calcium channels of beta cells in the pancreas could be used to treat the condition.

(dolgachov/Bigstock.com)

Beta cells in the pancreas produce the hormone insulin which regulates blood glucose levels and in people with diabetes these cells have lost part or all of their function.

The study by researchers at the Karolinska Institutet in Sweden explains that calcium ions (Ca2+) act as an important signal for the release of insulin. When blood glucose increases, this causes the levels of Ca2+ in the beta cells to increase, triggering the release of insulin.

Under normal conditions the Ca2+ signal displays a specific regular pattern when the cells are stimulated by glucose. When, on the other hand, the beta cells are not able to release normal amounts of insulin, as in diabetes, this pattern changes.

The level of Ca2+ increases in the beta cell when a specific calcium channel, made up of several different building blocks, opens in the beta cell’s wall. The researchers have already shown that one of the building blocks in the channel, the so-called ß3 subunit, plays an important regulatory role.

‘In our new study, we are able to show that beta cells from diabetic mice have an increased amount of the ß3 subunit and that this causes an altered Ca2+ pattern, a reduced release of insulin, and thereby impaired blood glucose regulation,’ said study leader Per-Olof Berggren, professor at the Rolf Luft Research Centre for Diabetes and Endocrinology at the Department of Molecular Medicine and Surgery at the university.

When the researchers reduced the amount of the ß3 subunit in the beta cells in the diabetic mice, the Ca2+ signal normalised and thereby the release of insulin, resulting in better regulation of the blood glucose levels.

The scientists also saw that mice that totally lacked the ß3 subunit demonstrated a better beta cell function and blood glucose regulation when they were given a diabetogenic diet. When the researchers tried transplanting beta cells without the ß3 subunit into mice with diabetes, the blood glucose regulation of the mice improved.

Experiments with human beta cells showed that the release of insulin deteriorates with increased amounts of the ß3 subunit.

‘Our findings indicate that just this building block in the calcium channel can be a new target for treating diabetes,’ said Berggren.

He added that even in type 1 diabetes manipulation of the beta 3 subunit may be beneficial in order to establish better functioning insulin secreting beta cells for transplantation.

{ 1 comment }

Thumbnail image for Computer analysis of data to be used to find out more about the onset of type 1 diabetes

Computer analysis of data to be used to find out more about the onset of type 1 diabetes

August 23, 2017 News

A global diabetes charity and a computer giant have announced a new collaboration to develop and apply machine learning methods to analyse data relating to type 1 diabetes in children. JDRF believes that the work with IBM will help to identify factors leading to the onset of type 1 diabetes and give new insight into […]

Read the full article →
Thumbnail image for Researchers find new precise methods to study what happens with diabetes in the pancreas

Researchers find new precise methods to study what happens with diabetes in the pancreas

August 23, 2017 News

Researchers in Sweden have revealed a new, precise method to study biochemical changes that occur in the pancreas during the development of diabetes which they hope can cast new light on what happens. The method is based on molecular spectroscopy and can be used to extract biochemical profiles or fingerprints containing information about disease progression. […]

Read the full article →
Thumbnail image for Computer modelling is being used to seek better treatments for type 2 diabetes

Computer modelling is being used to seek better treatments for type 2 diabetes

October 14, 2016 News

Scientists in the United States are using computer modelling to investigate higher quality treatments for people with type 2 diabetes. The research team at Clemson University in South Carolina have been awarded a $1.8 million grant to study the biological mechanisms behind the development of the condition. In particular Feng Ding and Weiguo Cao are […]

Read the full article →
Thumbnail image for Global diabetes numbers underestimated by 25% says new research

Global diabetes numbers underestimated by 25% says new research

July 12, 2016 News

The prevalence of diabetes around the world has been seriously underestimated by at least 25% as methods used to collect data have been inadequate, according to a new research paper. In 2015 the official International Diabetes Federation (IDF) estimated the number of people with diabetes was 415 million; however, the actual number may be as […]

Read the full article →
Thumbnail image for Alzheimer’s disease can lead to type 2 diabetes, new research reveals

Alzheimer’s disease can lead to type 2 diabetes, new research reveals

June 23, 2016 News

For the first time a scientific study has shown that Alzheimer’s disease can lead to diabetes, as opposed to diabetes occurring first as was previously thought. The study from a team at the University of Aberdeen reports that Alzheimer’s Disease and type 2 diabetes are so closely related that drugs currently used to control glucose levels in […]

Read the full article →
Thumbnail image for Breakthrough set to help with diabetic foot problems

Breakthrough set to help with diabetic foot problems

June 21, 2016 News

Scientists in the UK are a step closer to understanding how foot problems experienced by diabetes patients can lead to life threatening ulcers. A study led by Dr Roozbeh Naemi, Associate Professor in Biomechanics at Staffordshire University, has found a link between the mechanical properties of soft tissue on the sole of the feet and […]

Read the full article →
Thumbnail image for Research finds drug can help reduce diabetes related blindness

Research finds drug can help reduce diabetes related blindness

June 16, 2016 News

A drug originally developed to treat cardiovascular disease has the potential to reduce diabetes related blindness, according to new research in the UK. One of the most common complications of diabetes is vision loss. Diabetic macular oedema occurs in around 7% of people with diabetes and is one of the most common causes of blindness […]

Read the full article →
Thumbnail image for Type 2 diabetes and coronary artery disease combo more deadly say scientists

Type 2 diabetes and coronary artery disease combo more deadly say scientists

June 15, 2016 News

The combination of type 2 diabetes and coronary artery disease can be more deadly than previously thought, according to research from scientists in the United States. A global study led by a team from the University of Connecticut has found that people with type 2 diabetes admitted into the hospital for congestive heart failure face […]

Read the full article →
Thumbnail image for New research shows 235,000 have been diagnosed with diabetes in UK in the last year

New research shows 235,000 have been diagnosed with diabetes in UK in the last year

June 14, 2016 News

Some 235,000 people have been diagnosed with diabetes in the last year in the UK, a leading charity has announced to mark the annual Diabetes Week to raise awareness of the condition. Diabetes UK is highlighting the scale of what it calls a “diabetes epidemic”, forecasting that by the end of Diabetes Week 4,500 people […]

Read the full article →
Thumbnail image for Researchers find out how type 1 diabetes disrupts the immune system

Researchers find out how type 1 diabetes disrupts the immune system

June 13, 2016 Diabetes General

A team of researchers have uncovered new findings on how type 1 diabetes disrupts the immune system and impacts a person’s risk of developing the condition. The study undertaken at the Harry Perkins Institute of Medical Research in Nedlands, Western Australia, shows that, unlike many other genetic diseases, the genes that cause type 1 diabetes […]

Read the full article →