Researchers at Karolinska Institutet in Sweden show how a molecule that they have identified stimulates the formation of new insulin-producing cells in zebrafish and mammalian tissue, through a newly described mechanism for regulating protein synthesis. The results are published in Nature Chemical Biology.
“Our findings indicate a new potential target for treating diabetes, in that we demonstrate a possible way of stimulating the formation of new insulin-producing cells,” says the study’s last author Olov Andersson, senior researcher at the Department of Cell and Molecular Biology at Karolinska Institutet.
Both type 1 and type 2 diabetes are characterised by raised levels of blood sugar, the result of low levels of endogenous insulin, the hormone needed for glucose uptake from the blood, or a physiological inability to utilise the insulin secreted — or both.
Insulin injections and glucose-lowering drugs can control the disease, but not cure it.
Regeneration of pancreatic β cells
“One alternative could be a treatment that regulates blood glucose by increasing the number of insulin-producing pancreatic β cells, so we’re researching the possible regeneration of these cells,” says the study’s first author Christos Karampelias, former doctoral student at the Department of Cell and Molecular Biology at Karolinska Institutet.
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