There is glad tiding for millions of people worldwide suffering from diabetes disease as scientists have developed a new drug that can stimulate insulin-producing cells to regenerate at a rate faster enough to work in human treatments.
The recent invention by researchers at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai in New York City (NY), reveals how a mixture of two classes of drugs can make adult human beta cells replicate at a rate of 5–8 percent daily.
According to the lead author Dr. Andrew F. Stewart, who is director of the Mount Sinai Diabetes, Obesity, and Metabolism Institute, for the first time, the researchers were able to see rates of human cell replication that are sufficient to replenish beta cell mass in human beings.
Also, in their earlier work, the team had examined a small molecule that blocks an enzyme called Dual-Specificity Tyrosine-Phosphorylation-Regulated Kinase-1A (DYRK-1A). This molecule according to them, led to a beta cell proliferation rate of 1.5 to 3 percent increase.
In furtherance to the new study, the team demonstrated how adding a small molecule from a different class of drug raised the proliferation rate to an average of 5–8 percent. The second drug blocks members of the transforming growth factor-beta superfamily (TGFβSF). In spite of that, and while the study has taken an important step by showing that the drug combination can regenerate beta cells fast enough for treatment, there is still some work to do. Stewart hint that the next big hurdle is figuring out how to deliver them directly to the human pancreas.
It can be recalled that diabetes is a disease in which blood glucose rises to harmful levels. Persistent high blood glucose damages blood vessels, nerves, and other body systems. It can lead to vision loss, kidney disease, and heart problems. Blood glucose levels rise because of difficulties with producing and using insulin, a hormone that helps the body’s cells absorb and use glucose to make energy.
In a report by the World Health Organisation (WHO) which estimates suggest that there could be as many as 300 million people worldwide with diabetes by 2025. There are two main types of diabetes: type 1 and type 2. Around 90–95 percent of adults with diabetes have type 2.
In type 1 diabetes, the lack of control of blood glucose occurs because the immune system destroys insulin-producing beta cells in the pancreas.
Type 2 diabetes usually starts with insulin resistance, a condition in which cells become less effective at using insulin. The pancreas initially compensates by making more insulin, but this is not a long-term solution, and blood glucose levels eventually climb.
Although the two types have differences, recent studies reveal that type 1 and type 2 diabetes share a major feature: a diminished supply of functioning insulin-producing beta cells.