Researchers at the University of Alberta have identified a 'dimmer switch' which could delay the onset of Type-2 diabetes.
In the study, senior author Patrick MacDonald examined pancreatic islet cells from 99 human organ donors and identified a new molecular pathway that manages the amount of insulin produced by the pancreatic cells, essentially a 'dimmer' switch that adjusts how much or how little insulin is secreted when blood sugar increases.
MacDonald said the dimmer appeared to be lost in Type 2 diabetes but can be restored and turned back on which could revive proper control of insulin secretion from islet cells of people with Type 2 diabetes.
He added that understanding the islet cells in the pancreas that made insulin, how they worked and how they can fail could lead to new ways to treat the disease, delaying or even preventing diabetes.
The ability to restore and fix the dimmer switch in islet cells might have been proven on a molecular level, however finding a way to translate those findings into clinical use could yet take decades, says MacDonald. MacDonald concluded that did not know enough to stop Type 2 diabetes, but this was a large step towards understanding what was going wrong in the first place.
The study is published in the Journal of Clinical Investigation