Scientists find new method to treat diabetes

Scientists find new method to treat diabetes

A recent study from Karolinska Institutet has shown that one building block in the calcium channels in the pancreatic beta cells could play an important role in controlling blood sugar.

Targeting this building block may help treat type 2 diabetes.

Previously, scientists have found that beta cells in the pancreas can produce the hormone insulin. Insulin helps regulate the blood glucose level in the body.

The calcium ions (Ca2+) act as an important signal for insulin release. When blood sugar increases, it can cause Ca2+ level increase in the beta cells to trigger the release of insulin.

The level of Ca2+ increases in beta cells when a specific calcium channel opens in the beta cell’s wall.

The calcium channel is made up of several different building blocks. One of them is β3 subunit, which plays an important regulatory role.

In people with diabetes, the beta cell functions are damaged and they cannot release normal amounts of insulin.

In the present study, the researchers examined what would happen when they reduced the β3 subunit in the beta cells of the diabetic mice.

They found the Ca2+ signal was normalized and insulin release became normal. This results in better regulation of the blood glucose levels.

Moreover, the experiments with human beta cells showed that the insulin release became worse when the amounts of the β3 subunit increased.

The results suggest that this building block in the calcium channel could be used as a new target for treating type 2 diabetes.

Whether it could benefit people with type 1 diabetes requires future research.

The study lead author is Per-Olof Berggren, Professor at the Rolf Luft Research Centre for Diabetes and Endocrinology.

The research is published in Cell Reports.

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