Researchers in Norway recently made what they believe to be an
exciting discovery that they believe could change the way we manage
diabetes and it's all to do with our bodies' own cells.
Researchers at the University of Bergen, in collaboration with
other international researchers, have discovered that
glucagon producing cells in the pancreas can change identity
and adapt so that they do the job for their neighbouring damaged or
missing insulin cells.
As a result, the team believes they are possibly facing the
start of a totally new form of treatment for diabetes, where the
body can produce its own insulin with some start-up help.
Cells can change identity
The researchers discovered that only about 2 per cent of the
neighbouring cells in the pancreas could change identity. However,
even that amount makes the researchers optimistic about potential
new treatment approaches.
For the first time in history, researchers were able to describe
the mechanisms behind the process of cell identity.
It turns out this is not a passive process but is a result of
signals from the surrounding cells. In the study, researchers were
able to increase the number of insulin producing cells to 5 per
cent by using a drug that influenced the inter-cell signalling
process. Thus far, the results have only been shown in animal
Researchers believe that if they can gain more knowledge about
the mechanisms behind this cell flexibility, they could possibly be
able to control the process and change more cells' identities so
that more insulin can be produced.
Possible new treatment against cell death
According to the researchers, the new discoveries is not only
good news for diabetes treatment.
The cells´ ability to change identity and function maybe a
decisive discovery in treating other diseases caused by cell death,
such as Alzheimer´s disease and cellular damage due to heart