New Type Of Insulin-Producing Cell Discovered In The Pancreas

Posted: Apr 5 2017, 3:44am CDT | by , in News | Latest Science News

New Type of Insulin-Producing Cell Discovered in the Pancreas
Insulin is made in pancreatic islets by beta cells. In type I diabetes, these cells are lost. Now UC Davis researchers have identified another type of insulin-producing cell in the islets, which appears to be an immature beta cell (shown in red in this image). The discovery shows unexpected flexibility in the system. Greater understanding could lead to better treatments and stem cell therapies for diabetes. Credit: Mark Huising/UC Davis
  • A Whole New Type of Insulin-Secreting Cell found in the Pancreas

A whole new type of insulin-secreting cell has been found in the context of the pancreas. Scientists never knew such a cell existed and it is a case of another piece fitting perfectly in the puzzle of diabetes research.

People who have type 1 diabetes tend to have the insulin-producing beta cells die off in the pancreas. These are not replaced either leading the body to lose its ability to regulate blood glucose.

The experts have just recently found out a way to regenerate beta cells. This lends focus to the essential means of allowing a healthy metabolism and diabetes control. In the future, this research may lead to more ideal treatment of the disease and possibly the finding of a cure as well.

Although advances in the treatment of diabetes are normally taken in a stride, a cure for the disease remains far away. To cure diabetes, we will have to understand how it functions in its everyday symptoms and signs.

Scientists worked with lab mice and human tissue. How the cells in the islets of Langerhans in the pancreas tend to deal with blood glucose was seen by scientists in an up close and personal manner.

In both people and mice, the islets have within them, beta cells. These detect the presence of glucose and secrete insulin. Then there are alpha cells which release glucagon.

This hormone raises blood glucose. It is the give and take of insulin and glucagon that allows the regulation of blood sugar and the absorption and proper metabolism of nutrients in the body.

In case of type 1 diabetes, the body’s own immune system destroys the beta cells. They do not undergo regeneration and even if they do, they are killed again by the immune system.

A possible cure to type 1 diabetes would involve tackling both these problems in one go. Now scientists have found another type of cell that looks like an immature beta cell.

While these newly discovered cells can produce insulin, they do not have the receptors necessary to detect glucose. That is why they do not function properly.

Yet alpha cells have been found to turn into immature beta cells and then mature into real beta cells. There is more going on here then meets the eye. A great deal of plasticity is involved.

This is something that wasn’t known prior to this microscopic discovery. A greater understanding of these new immature beta cells could spell the death of diabetes as a disease in future times.

A paper on the matter was published in the journal Cell Metabolism.

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