Saturday, May 7, 2011

A Gene-Based Diabetes Cure?

UCLA scientists believe it may be possible to cure diabetes by creating new insulin-producing cells from similar tissues.


The pancreas contains both beta cells and alpha cells. The beta cells make insulin, which lowers blood sugars. The alpha cells make glucagon, which raises blood sugars.

The crucial difference between the two types of cells is the activity of a gene called ARX, which has to be "turned up" by a process called methylation to make insulin and "turned down" by a process called demthylation to make glucagon. The problem in diabetes is that ARX has been "turned down" so much that insulin production eventually is essentially turned off. The cells that are supposed to make insulin, which lowers blood sugar levels, instead make glucagon, which raises them.

In turn, another gene called Dnmt1 controls the chemical processes that activates the gene that controls the production of insulin. Dr. Anil Bhushan of the David Geffen School of Medicine told Diabetes in Control that believes that it may be "simple" to reactivate Dnmt1 to restart the production of insulin.

Of course, insulin resistance would still be an issue, so this would not mean that diabetics could suddenly start eating anything they wanted. However, for type 1 diabetics and for advanced type 2 diabetics, a treatment to restart insulin production would be a significant first step in curing the disease. UCLA scientists believe it may be possible to cure diabetes by creating new insulin-producing cells from similar tissues.

The pancreas contains both beta cells and alpha cells. The beta cells make insulin, which lowers blood sugars. The alpha cells make glucagon, which raises blood sugars.

The crucial difference between the two types of cells is the activity of a gene called ARX, which has to be "turned up" by a process called methylation to make insulin and "turned down" by a process called demthylation to make glucagon. The problem in diabetes is that ARX has been "turned down" so much that insulin production eventually is essentially turned off. The cells that are supposed to make insulin, which lowers blood sugar levels, instead make glucagon, which raises them.

In turn, another gene called Dnmt1 controls the chemical processes that activates the gene that controls the production of insulin. Dr. Anil Bhushan of the David Geffen School of Medicine told Diabetes in Control that believes that it may be "simple" to reactivate Dnmt1 to restart the production of insulin.

Of course, insulin resistance would still be an issue, so this would not mean that diabetics could suddenly start eating anything they wanted. However, for type 1 diabetics and for advanced type 2 diabetics, a treatment to restart insulin production would be a significant first step in curing the disease.UCLA scientists believe it may be possible to cure diabetes by creating new insulin-producing cells from similar tissues.

The pancreas contains both beta cells and alpha cells. The beta cells make insulin, which lowers blood sugars. The alpha cells make glucagon, which raises blood sugars.

The crucial difference between the two types of cells is the activity of a gene called ARX, which has to be "turned up" by a process called methylation to make insulin and "turned down" by a process called demthylation to make glucagon. The problem in diabetes is that ARX has been "turned down" so much that insulin production eventually is essentially turned off. The cells that are supposed to make insulin, which lowers blood sugar levels, instead make glucagon, which raises them.

In turn, another gene called Dnmt1 controls the chemical processes that activates the gene that controls the production of insulin. Dr. Anil Bhushan of the David Geffen School of Medicine told Diabetes in Control that believes that it may be "simple" to reactivate Dnmt1 to restart the production of insulin.

Of course, insulin resistance would still be an issue, so this would not mean that diabetics could suddenly start eating anything they wanted. However, for type 1 diabetics and for advanced type 2 diabetics, a treatment to restart insulin production would be a significant first step in curing the disease. MZGWTM8SR886

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