Published Tuesday in the Journal of Clinical Investigation the research does not promise now to be able to bring about the eradication of Type 2 diabetes, the most common diabetes that can lead to blindness, stroke, heart disease and other illness. But they believe that using their new knowledge moving forward will eventually help to do just that.
What they’ve done is discover a previously unknown molecular pathway that manages the insulin produced by our bodies. They did this by examining 99 donor pancreatic organs and their islet cells (islet cells produce insulin). This pathway, they said, acts as a “dimmer switch” to manage how much insulin is produced when blood sugar is increased.
The researchers said that when it comes to those with Type 2 diabetes their “dimmer switch” is turned off. One of the researchers, Prof. Patrick MacDonald of the U. of A. Faculty of Medicine, said that discovering this new molecular pathway could lead them to finding out why it is turned off in those who have diabetes.
That in turn should lead them to discovering how they can turn it back on, enabling patients with diabetes to once again regulate their insulin production.
“Understanding the islet cells in the pancreas that make insulin, how they work – and how they can fail – could lead to new ways to treat the disease, delaying or even preventing diabetes,” Prof. MacDonald said. “We don’t know enough to stop Type 2 diabetes yet, but this is a large step toward understanding what’s going wrong in the first place.
“To say that the jump in understanding is going lead to a cure in a couple years, that’s a big leap,” he added. “But you know, we’re getting there.”