New research out of the Hyderabad-based Centre for Cellular and Molecular Biology (CCMB) reveals a significant finding that may help in the fight against diabetes and in diabetes management. Scientists were successful in deactivating a gene to regulate the functioning of the pancreatic beta cells. The beta cells in the pancreas are the cells responsible for regulating the amount of insulin in the body and producing whatever insulin is needed. A malfunction in the cells leads to a non-production of insulin or the production of insulin that is not effective.
In diabetes, there is either no insulin being produced or not enough insulin being produced. The number of beta cells an individual has in his pancreas determines whether or not he is diabetic or normal. Being able to regulate the mass of beta cells in the pancreas, as researchers in this study were able to do, is a significant medical advance in the successful control and management of diabetes.
The gene the scientists worked with is the gene ‘Wdr13’. Deactivating this gene led to a higher production of insulin and better glucose tolerance. Team leader Dr Kumar said:
“We found that without gene Wdr13, the mice had higher pancreatic islet mass and blood serum insulin levels. As a result of the increased islet mass, the knockout mice had better ‘glucose clearance’ as compared to their counterparts with the Wdr13 gene. In other words, knocking off the gene WDr13 will help diabetics to clear blood glucose quite effectively.”
The research team is continuing its work by studying the health implications if they can successfully turn off the Wdr13 gene as a person ages. This would be a positive step in the management of Type 2 diabetes, which is hitting millions of people each year.
Continued research on the Wdr13 gene could help in developing a drug that could be used in the treatment and management of diabetes. Diabetes is reaching epidemic proportions not only here in the US but across the world. In India, where this study originated, the present diabetic population is estimated to be around 40 million. According to the Khaleej Times, India fears that it is well on its way to becoming the diabetes capital of the world in the next few years.
Stopping the rise of diabetes and developing effective methods for diabetes management is an international effort as there are few nations untouched by the threat of diabetes growing to epidemic proportions.