In addition to regenerating or replacing insulin producing cells, a cure for type 1 diabetes will also involve stopping the autoimmune attack that causes diabetes, and reestablishing excellent glucose control.
Role of Stress Hormones in Insulin Producing Cells
Research conducted by Dr. Vale's laboratory since the 1980s established the role of the hormone CRF (corticotropin-releasing factor) in regulating the stress response in people. With this research, the team now reports that CRF has a direct effect on how insulin producing cells in the pancreas function and grow.
"We found that beta cells in the pancreas actually express the receptor for CRF," explains Dr. Huising. "And once we had established the presence of CRF in these cells, we started filling in the blanks, trying to learn as much as we could."
These results showed that when beta cells are exposed to the hormone, and to high levels of blood sugar, they will produce and release insulin. Working in collaboration with researchers at the Panum Institute in Copenhagen, the investigators discovered that these insulin producing cells proliferate when exposed to CRF.
"Being able to stimulate beta cells to divide a little faster may be part of a solution that may ultimately, hopefully, allow management of type 1 diabetes," Dr. Vale says. "But because it is an autoimmune condition, making the cells divide won't be enough. That is why researchers are working hard to solve the problem of destruction of beta cells."
|Contact: Jill Lubarsky|
Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation International