Scientists find a new cause of diabetes

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In our body, there’s a small, but very important organ called the pancreas. One of its jobs is to make insulin through special cells called beta cells.

Insulin is like a key that opens the door for sugar to enter our cells, giving them energy. If our body doesn’t make enough insulin, it can lead to a condition called diabetes, where sugar builds up in the blood.

Different Kinds of Beta Cells

Researchers from Weill Cornell Medicine have made an interesting discovery. Not all beta cells are the same!

Dr. James Lo and his team identified four different kinds of beta cells. They published their findings in Nature Cell Biology.

One kind of beta cell, named cluster 1, is special. It’s like the superhero of beta cells because it makes more insulin and breaks down sugar better than the others. Losing these superhero cells can make a person more likely to get type 2 diabetes.

How Did They Find This Out?

To discover these different beta cells, the team used a method called single-cell transcriptomics.

This fancy technique lets them see all the genes that are switched on in individual mouse beta cells. Genes are like instruction manuals that tell cells what to do.

The superhero, cluster 1 beta cells, had more active genes that helped in making insulin and breaking down sugar.

They also found that these special cells have high levels of a protein called CD63, which made it easier to spot them.

What Does This Mean for Humans?

Both humans and mice have these superhero beta cells, and they behave in similar ways. Obese mice and those with diabetes had fewer of these special cells. This loss meant less insulin was being made, which could lead to diabetes.

When the scientists put more of these special beta cells into diabetic mice, it helped control their blood sugar levels.

But, when they used the regular beta cells, it didn’t help as much. This means, in the future, we might be able to help people with diabetes by giving them more of these superhero cells.

What’s Next in Diabetes Research?

Dr. James Lo’s team wants to find out why diabetic mice lose these special cells and how to stop this loss. Keeping these cells working might help us create better ways to treat or stop diabetes.

The researchers are also curious about how current diabetes medicines affect the different kinds of beta cells.

Understanding more about beta cells can help us come up with more effective treatments and maybe even find a way to prevent diabetes. It’s a step forward in making life better for people with this condition.

For those who are interested in learning more about managing diabetes, there have been other studies suggesting the benefits of foods like whole grains and blueberries and the role of vitamins like vitamin D in managing blood pressure in diabetic individuals.

This research is a beacon of hope for countless individuals dealing with diabetes, and it’s a reminder of the relentless pursuit of knowledge by scientists to combat ailments and enhance the quality of life.

Every step in this journey brings us closer to more effective solutions and remedies for diabetes.

If you care about diabetes, please read studies that not all whole grain foods could benefit people with type 2 diabetes, and green tea could help reduce death risk in type 2 diabetes.

For more information about nutrition, please see recent studies about unhealthy plant-based diets linked to metabolic syndrome, and results showing Mediterranean diet could help reduce the diabetes risk by one third.

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