Nature Reviews - "Genetics: Towards β-cell regeneration" - Claire Greenhill

New York, NY
 – October 23, 2017  –– 

Inducing human β-cells to replicate is very challenging; although harmine analogues can induce β-cell replication, the low rate of replication means that they are unlikely to be useful for the treatment of patients with type 1 diabetes mellitus or type 2 diabetes mellitus. Now, a new paper has mined the genomes of human insulinomas to give new insights into the genetic control of β-cell replication, which could lead to novel treatments for diabetes mellitus. In order to investigate β-cell replication, Andrew Stewart, MD, Director of the Diabetes, Obesity, and Metabolism Institute at the Icahn School of Medicine and lead author of the study and colleagues needed a source of β-cells capable of replication. Human neonatal β-cells are difficult to obtain, so the team turned to insulinomas. These benign tumours of the β-cells result in β-cell replication and high production of insulin, which causes hypoglycaemia and psychomotor symptoms. “We viewed them as benign tumours that hold the genetic code to therapeutic β-cell expansion for diabetes mellitus,” explained Dr. Stewart.

- Andrew Stewart, MD, Director of the Diabetes, Obesity, and Metabolism Institute at the Icahn School of Medicine

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