Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Astonishing regeneration potential of the pancreas

21.08.2014

Up until puberty, the pancreas is more adaptable and possesses a greater potential for self-healing than had previously been assumed. This is the conclusion reached by a study with mice funded through the National Research Programme "Stem Cells and Regenerative Medicine" (NRP 63).

Approximately 40,000 persons in Switzerland suffer from type-1 diabetes. The illness is caused by the loss of so-called pancreatic beta cells, the cells that produce the hormone insulin, which is essential for regulating the use of sugar in the body.

Since beta cells do not regenerate, scientists have traditionally assumed that the loss of these cells is irreversible; indeed, diabetic patients require insulin injections for life.

Previously unknown mechanism

Four years ago, the research team of Pedro Herrera (University of Geneva) first cast doubt on this assumption when they demonstrated that a few alpha cells in the pancreas of genetically modified diabetic mice changed into beta cells.

Alpha cells normally produce the blood sugar-raising hormone glucagon, but in diabetic mice they started producing insulin instead. Herrera's team has now made a second discovery, which has just been published in the journal "Nature" (*): in prepubescent mice the pancreas is capable of compensating the loss of insulin-producing beta cells. "This is achieved by a mechanism unknown until now," says Herrera.

The process involves the reversion of delta cells (which produce somatostatin, another pancreatic hormone) to a precursor-like cell state, with proliferation and later reconstitution of the populations of beta and delta cells.

In contrast to the conversion of alpha cells, which only concerns a small fraction of the alpha cell population, the new mechanism involving delta cell fate change is a more efficient way of offsetting the loss of beta cells and thus diabetes recovery. Yet while alpha cells can reprogram into insulin production also in old mice, the ability of delta cells to do so is limited and does not extend beyond puberty.

Human pancreas can regenerate too

Although Herrera's group has investigated the versatility of pancreatic cells in mice, several observations in diabetic patients suggest that the human pancreas is capable of transformation too. "The new mechanism shows that the pancreas is much more plastic and – at least during childhood – possesses a much greater potential for self-healing than we had previously assumed," says Herrera.

“There is still a long way to go before diabetes patients might be able to benefit from these findings, but the discovery that delta cells have a high degree of plasticity points to a hitherto unsuspected option for therapeutic intervention.”

(*) S. Chera, D. Baronnier, L. Ghila, V. Cigliola, J. N. Jensen, G. Gu, K. Furuyama, F. Thorel, F. M. Gribble, F. Reimann and P. L. Herrera (2014). Diabetes Recovery By Age-Dependent Conversion of Pancreatic Delta-Cells Into Insulin Producers. Nature online: doi: 10.1038/nature13633
(Journalists can obtain a pdf file from the SNSF by writing to: com@snf.ch)

National Research Programme

"Stem Cells and Regenerative Medicine" (NRP 63)
The aim of NRP 63 is to obtain basic information about the nature, functioning and convertibility of stem cells. NRP 63 also hopes to strengthen stem cell research in Switzerland. It was launched in 2010 and comprises 12 projects. NRP 63 has a budget of CHF 10 million and is scheduled to end next year.


Contact

Prof Pedro L. Herrera
Department of Genetic Medicine and Development
Faculty of Medicine, University of Geneva
Rue Michel-Servet 1
CH-1211 Geneva
Phone: +41 22 379 52 25
E-mail: pedro.herrera@unige.ch

Weitere Informationen:

http://www.snsf.ch/media
http://www.nrp.ch/e

Media - Abteilung Kommunikation | idw - Informationsdienst Wissenschaft

Further reports about: Medicine NRP beta diabetic hormone mechanism pancreas pancreatic producing regenerate

More articles from Health and Medicine:

nachricht Why might reading make myopic?
18.07.2018 | Universitätsklinikum Tübingen

nachricht Unique brain 'fingerprint' can predict drug effectiveness
11.07.2018 | McGill University

All articles from Health and Medicine >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: First evidence on the source of extragalactic particles

For the first time ever, scientists have determined the cosmic origin of highest-energy neutrinos. A research group led by IceCube scientist Elisa Resconi, spokesperson of the Collaborative Research Center SFB1258 at the Technical University of Munich (TUM), provides an important piece of evidence that the particles detected by the IceCube neutrino telescope at the South Pole originate from a galaxy four billion light-years away from Earth.

To rule out other origins with certainty, the team led by neutrino physicist Elisa Resconi from the Technical University of Munich and multi-wavelength...

Im Focus: Magnetic vortices: Two independent magnetic skyrmion phases discovered in a single material

For the first time a team of researchers have discovered two different phases of magnetic skyrmions in a single material. Physicists of the Technical Universities of Munich and Dresden and the University of Cologne can now better study and understand the properties of these magnetic structures, which are important for both basic research and applications.

Whirlpools are an everyday experience in a bath tub: When the water is drained a circular vortex is formed. Typically, such whirls are rather stable. Similar...

Im Focus: Breaking the bond: To take part or not?

Physicists working with Roland Wester at the University of Innsbruck have investigated if and how chemical reactions can be influenced by targeted vibrational excitation of the reactants. They were able to demonstrate that excitation with a laser beam does not affect the efficiency of a chemical exchange reaction and that the excited molecular group acts only as a spectator in the reaction.

A frequently used reaction in organic chemistry is nucleophilic substitution. It plays, for example, an important role in in the synthesis of new chemical...

Im Focus: New 2D Spectroscopy Methods

Optical spectroscopy allows investigating the energy structure and dynamic properties of complex quantum systems. Researchers from the University of Würzburg present two new approaches of coherent two-dimensional spectroscopy.

"Put an excitation into the system and observe how it evolves." According to physicist Professor Tobias Brixner, this is the credo of optical spectroscopy....

Im Focus: Chemical reactions in the light of ultrashort X-ray pulses from free-electron lasers

Ultra-short, high-intensity X-ray flashes open the door to the foundations of chemical reactions. Free-electron lasers generate these kinds of pulses, but there is a catch: the pulses vary in duration and energy. An international research team has now presented a solution: Using a ring of 16 detectors and a circularly polarized laser beam, they can determine both factors with attosecond accuracy.

Free-electron lasers (FELs) generate extremely short and intense X-ray flashes. Researchers can use these flashes to resolve structures with diameters on the...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

Leading experts in Diabetes, Metabolism and Biomedical Engineering discuss Precision Medicine

13.07.2018 | Event News

Conference on Laser Polishing – LaP: Fine Tuning for Surfaces

12.07.2018 | Event News

11th European Wood-based Panel Symposium 2018: Meeting point for the wood-based materials industry

03.07.2018 | Event News

 
Latest News

Metal too 'gummy' to cut? Draw on it with a Sharpie or glue stick, science says

19.07.2018 | Materials Sciences

NSF-supported researchers to present new results on hurricanes and other extreme events

19.07.2018 | Earth Sciences

Scientists uncover the role of a protein in production & survival of myelin-forming cells

19.07.2018 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>