Researchers from the University of Pittsburgh have discovered that the stimulation of a single molecule can result in the increased production of insulin to help manage diabetes. The study was published in the journal Diabetes published by the American Diabetes Association.
The study also found many other combinations of molecules that stimulate beta cells to replicate. When beta cells replicate, insulin is produced and this helps in the control of the amount of blood glucose in the body. Diabetes is either the body’s inability to produce insulin or the low amounts of insulin produced for the body’s needs.
“Our team was the first to show that adult human beta cells can be induced to proliferate or grow at substantial rates, which no one thought possible before,” said senior author Andrew F. Stewart, M.D., professor of medicine and chief of the Division of Endocrinology and Metabolism, Pitt School of Medicine. “Now our effort has been to unravel these regulatory pathways to find the most effective strategy that will allow us to treat – and perhaps cure – diabetes by making new insulin-producing cells.”
The discovery was made when the team headed by Dr. Nathalie M. Fiaschi-Taesch found that the combination of elevated amounts of regulatory molecules cdk4 or cdk6 and D-cyclin proteins such as cyclin D3 results in the increased human beta cell production in test tubes. At the outset, there was no known role that cyclin D3 plays in human beta cell physiology but the discovery of its ability to increase replication overturned such notions.
When tested on rodent subjects, it was found that Cyclin D2 was essential in beta cell replication and functioning. On the other hand, the molecule was barely discernible in humans. The stimulation regimen, the study showed, can be sustained for at least four weeks in reengineered mice. These rodent subjects were transplanted with human beta cells that produce large quantities of cdk6.
This is but the start of another avenue in the treatment and management of diabetes. The use of regulatory proteins can be one of the best regimens yet available in increasing beta cell replication for diabetes worldwide.