Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Researchers make older beta cells act young again

13.10.2011
By manipulating a well-known molecular pathway, JDRF-funded scientists breathe new life into aging beta cells

As a person ages, the ability of their beta cells to divide and make new beta cells declines. By the time children reach the age of 10 to 12 years, the ability of their insulin-producing cells to replicate greatly diminishes.

If these cells, called beta cells, are destroyed¡Xas they are in type 1 diabetes¡Xtreatment with the hormone insulin becomes essential to regulate blood glucose levels and get energy from food. Now, longtime JDRF-funded researchers at Stanford University have identified a pathway responsible for this age-related decline, and have shown that they can tweak it to get older beta cells to act young again¡Xand start dividing.

The work, to appear in the October12 issue of Nature, provides the most complete picture to date of the molecular and biochemical mechanisms that bring beta cell regeneration to a near halt as beta cells age. These findings may help pave a path for developing strategies to restore beta cell number to treat both type 1 and type 2 diabetes.

In their work, the researchers, led by Seung Kim, M.D., Ph.D., of Stanford University, found that a protein called PDGF, or platelet derived growth factor, and its receptor send beta cells signals to start dividing via an intricate pathway that controls the levels of two proteins in the beta cell nucleus, where cell division occurs. Working with young mice, Dr. Kim and his team found that PDGF binds to its receptor on the beta cell's surface and controls the level of these regulating proteins allowing cells to divide. However, in older mice, they discovered that beta cells lose PDGF receptors, and that this age-related change prevents beta cells from dividing. Dr. Kim and his colleagues further found that by artificially increasing the number of PDGF receptors, they can restore the ability of the beta cell to divide and generate new cells.

The researchers also show that this age-dependent beta cell proliferation pathway is also present in human beta cells. Similar to the findings with mice beta cells, the researchers found that juvenile human islet beta cells proliferate in response to PDGF, but adult human islet beta cells do not due to a reduced level of PDGF receptors.

In the past, researchers have used other techniques to trigger older beta cells to start dividing, but they have been met with challenging results, explains Dr. Kim, who is also a Howard Hughes Medical Institute investigator. "You can get these cells to grow but they will literally lose their specific identity as a beta cell," he says. "They will either stop making insulin, or they'll grow just fine but they will grow uncontrollably or into other cell types."

But with the advent of better genetic tools and the completion of the human genome project, that era has come to pass, he explains. "With these advanced technologies, we are now able to get a comprehensive view¡Xat the genetic level¡Xof the changes beta cells undergo as they age, and we can track these changes and study them in a systematic way," he adds. "By understanding what genes are turned on and off in a young beta cell, we can try to recreate that genetic environment in older beta cells such that they divide in a desirable, controlled manner."

By better understanding the mechanisms that control and govern pancreatic ƒÒ-cell proliferation, researchers could transform treatments for diabetes. The cascade leading from PDGF binding to its receptor on the beta cell's surface to changes in protein levels within the nucleus could inspire scientists with new ideas on how to discover new drugs to safely promote beta cell regeneration to replace those lost in diabetes.

"A major goal of JDRF's regeneration program is to find ways to preserve and restore functional beta cells as a cure for type 1 diabetes. One of the challenges is that adult beta cells do not readily replicate, and these new findings provide key insight on how the body regulates beta cell growth and replication," says Patricia Kilian, Ph.D., JDRF's scientific program director of regeneration research. "Based on these key scientific insights, we hope the new findings will help enable the discovery of safe therapies to promote beta cell regeneration."

About JDRF

JDRF is the worldwide leader for research to cure type 1 diabetes (T1D). It sets the global agenda for diabetes research, and is the largest charitable funder and advocate of diabetes science worldwide.

The mission of JDRF is to find a cure for diabetes and its complications through the support of research. T1D is an autoimmune disease that strikes children and adults suddenly, and can be fatal. Until a cure is found, people with T1D have to test their blood sugar and give themselves insulin injections multiple times or use a pump--each day, every day of their lives. And even with that intensive care, insulin is not a cure for diabetes, nor does it prevent its potential complications, which may include kidney failure, blindness, heart disease, stroke, and amputation.

Since its founding in 1970 by parents of children with T1D, JDRF has awarded more than $1.5 billion to diabetes research, including $107 million last year. More than 80 percent of JDRF's expenditures directly support research and research-related education. For more information, please visit www.jdrf.org.

Joana Casas | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.jdrf.org

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht Complementing conventional antibiotics
24.05.2018 | Goethe-Universität Frankfurt am Main

nachricht Building a brain, cell by cell: Researchers make a mini neuron network (of two)
23.05.2018 | Institute of Industrial Science, The University of Tokyo

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Molecular switch will facilitate the development of pioneering electro-optical devices

A research team led by physicists at the Technical University of Munich (TUM) has developed molecular nanoswitches that can be toggled between two structurally different states using an applied voltage. They can serve as the basis for a pioneering class of devices that could replace silicon-based components with organic molecules.

The development of new electronic technologies drives the incessant reduction of functional component sizes. In the context of an international collaborative...

Im Focus: LZH showcases laser material processing of tomorrow at the LASYS 2018

At the LASYS 2018, from June 5th to 7th, the Laser Zentrum Hannover e.V. (LZH) will be showcasing processes for the laser material processing of tomorrow in hall 4 at stand 4E75. With blown bomb shells the LZH will present first results of a research project on civil security.

At this year's LASYS, the LZH will exhibit light-based processes such as cutting, welding, ablation and structuring as well as additive manufacturing for...

Im Focus: Self-illuminating pixels for a new display generation

There are videos on the internet that can make one marvel at technology. For example, a smartphone is casually bent around the arm or a thin-film display is rolled in all directions and with almost every diameter. From the user's point of view, this looks fantastic. From a professional point of view, however, the question arises: Is that already possible?

At Display Week 2018, scientists from the Fraunhofer Institute for Applied Polymer Research IAP will be demonstrating today’s technological possibilities and...

Im Focus: Explanation for puzzling quantum oscillations has been found

So-called quantum many-body scars allow quantum systems to stay out of equilibrium much longer, explaining experiment | Study published in Nature Physics

Recently, researchers from Harvard and MIT succeeded in trapping a record 53 atoms and individually controlling their quantum state, realizing what is called a...

Im Focus: Dozens of binaries from Milky Way's globular clusters could be detectable by LISA

Next-generation gravitational wave detector in space will complement LIGO on Earth

The historic first detection of gravitational waves from colliding black holes far outside our galaxy opened a new window to understanding the universe. A...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

Save the date: Forum European Neuroscience – 07-11 July 2018 in Berlin, Germany

02.05.2018 | Event News

Invitation to the upcoming "Current Topics in Bioinformatics: Big Data in Genomics and Medicine"

13.04.2018 | Event News

Unique scope of UV LED technologies and applications presented in Berlin: ICULTA-2018

12.04.2018 | Event News

 
Latest News

When corals eat plastics

24.05.2018 | Ecology, The Environment and Conservation

Surgery involving ultrasound energy found to treat high blood pressure

24.05.2018 | Medical Engineering

First chip-scale broadband optical system that can sense molecules in the mid-IR

24.05.2018 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>