New method to boost growth of insulin-producing cells

June 14, 2022
New method to boost growth of insulin-producing cells

A study of zebrafish and mammalian cells has led researchers at the Karolinska Institutet in Sweden to identify a small molecule that may help regenerate pancreatic beta cells that produce insulin. Diabetes (type 1- and type 2 diabetes) is brought on by the lack of, or inability to produce insulin, the hormone that regulates blood glucose levels. The regeneration of beta cells is a much more promising and lasting treatment for diabetes instead of insulin injections or drugs that control, but not cure the disease.

Upon examination of molecular interactions between cells, the researchers noticed that a molecule (CID661578) binds to a protein called MNK2, which ultimately leads to greater beta cell regeneration. In tests, the molecule lowered blood glucose levels in zebrafish; triggered the formation of new beta cells in pig pancreatic cells; and produced more insulin in human pancreas organoids.

Dr. Olov Andersson, senior researcher in the Department of Cell and Molecular Biology at Karolinska Institutet, said the findings indicate a new potential target for treating diabetes by way of stimulating the formation of new insulin-producing cells.

“We’ll now be studying the effect of this and similar molecules in human tissue and analyzing the molecule’s target protein, MNK2, in tissue from healthy donors and donors with diabetes,” said Dr. Olov.

Category: Education, Features

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