Insulin switches in pancreas could help treat and prevent diabetes

Insulin switches in pancreas could help treat and prevent diabetesWashington, Sept 27 : Scientists have discovered how a hormone turns on a series of molecular switches inside the pancreas that increases production of insulin - a natural hormone that controls the level of the sugar glucose in the blood.

Type II diabetes is caused by an inability for insulin to stimulate muscles to take up glucose, a kind of sugar, from the bloodstream after eating.

The molecular switches command pancreatic beta islet cells, the cells responsible for insulin, to grow and multiply. Tweaking these cells might even offer a solution to type 1 diabetes, the form of diabetes caused by destruction of islet cells.

"By understanding how pancreatic cells can be encouraged to produce insulin in the most efficient way possible, we may be able to manipulate those cells to treat or even prevent diabetes," says the study's lead author, Marc Montminy, a professor in the Clayton Foundation Laboratories for Peptide Biology at Salk Institute.

Such new agents might increase the functioning of beta islet cells even in people who have not developed diabetes.

"The truth is that as we grow older, these islet cells tend to wear out," Montminy says.

Montminy likened the situation to opening and closing an automatic garage door and wearing out the battery.

"The genetic switches just don't get turned on as efficiently as they did when we were younger, even if we don't develop diabetes. It's like using a garage door opener so many times, the battery wears out. We need a way to continually refresh that battery," he said.

The study was recently published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. (ANI)