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DRC-Funded Scientist Creates New Insulin-Producing Cells to Fight Type 1 Diabetes

Thanks in part to funding from the Diabetes Research Connection (DRC), Dr. Kristin Mussar was able to conduct an in-depth study regarding how to stimulate the body’s own cells to create new insulin-producing cells that may help treat type 1 diabetes (T1D). In individuals with T1D, the immune system attacks insulin-producing cells, destroying them and leaving the body unable to effectively regulate blood sugar.

The human body is filled with myeloid cells that all differentiate to help grow, maintain, and repair various organs. When these cells are depleted, it impacts organ health. For instance, lack of insulin-producing cells results in diabetes. However, Dr. Mussar and her team discovered that there is a population of macrophages – white blood cells that recirculate throughout the body constantly monitoring the health status of all tissues – that instruct insulin-producing cells to grow in the perinatal stage of pancreas development. During this period of prolific growth, enough insulin-producing cells are created to support glucose homeostasis throughout one’s life.

Dr. Mussar found that there is a special population of these cells that act as cargos of potent growth factors for the insulin-producing cells in the pancreas. If these cells are prevented from entering the pancreas, the growth of insulin-producing cells is arrested and diabetes ensues. This lack of cell growth, as well as cell destruction, are issues that researchers have been trying to remedy through various strategies for treating T1D.

One avenue of treatment that is being explored is finding ways to use the body’s own cells and processes to support insulin production. Current challenges in treatment include the constant monitoring and accurate dosing of insulin, as well as the use of immunosuppressants or other medications to prevent the body from destroying modified cells or specialized therapies. Using the body’s own cells can help reduce risk of immune attack or rejection.

To this effect, Dr. Mussar’s research revealed that there are precursors to these special macrophages that exist within the bone marrow of adults. When these precursors are injected into the blood stream, they are able to signal growth of insulin-producing cells. This discovery raises hopes that, by dispatching these pro-regenerative cells from the bone marrow to injured pancreatic islets, it may be possible to enhance regeneration of insulin-producing cells in individuals with type 1 diabetes. This may in turn help to stabilize blood sugar naturally using the body’s own cells.

The Diabetes Research Connection is proud to have played a role in making Dr. Mussar’s research possible by providing funding that enabled her to continue moving forward with her project and eventually get the results published in the Journal of Clinical Investigation.

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Child Getting Blood Pressure Checked

Children in UK: Alarming Rise in Type 1 Diabetes Among Youth

A substantially high numberChild Getting Blood Pressure Checked of children in the UK have been found to exhibit long-term health implications associated with type 1 diabetes, a report from the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health (RCPCH) says.

It looked at figures from diabetes units across England and Wales in 2013-14 and found that more than 27 percent of young people had high blood pressure, while around 7 percent had markers of future kidney disease.

Over 14 percent had early signs of eye disease putting them at risk of blindness in later years.

More than 25 percent were classed as obese. Obesity is one of the risk factors for developing diabetes.

The analysis shows that 26,867 children and young people with diabetes were recorded last year, compared with 25,221 in 2012/13.

While the overall blood sugar control in the group has improved, just 16 percent underwent all seven annual health checks recommended to monitor their blood sugar control and complications, reports BBC.

With some patients showing early markers of eye, heart and kidney disease, the findings raise concern for their future health.

Barbara Young, Diabetes UK chief executive, said there was evidence that children were experiencing problems with their eyesight or kidneys before they reached their 18th birthday.

She said: “There is an urgent need for the NHS to make the pace of improvement quicker.”

The data revealed more than 1,000 new cases recorded in people under-25 last year.

Dr Justin Warner, of the RCPCH, said: “This is the first time we have been able to collect and analyse the data on early warning signs and levels are higher than we would expect.”

Health implications
Type 1 diabetes that appears in childhood is caused by the immune system destroying cells in the pancreas, leading to high blood sugar levels.

The more common type 2 diabetes is largely due to an unhealthy lifestyle.

Persistently high blood sugar levels can lead to serious problems, including heart disease and kidney disorders.

The study also looked at type 2 diabetes, which accounts for 5 percent of all cases of diabetes in children and young people.

Similar rise in type 1 diabetes has been recorded by many other countries. The cause is not known, but it is thought to be the result of a combination of genetic and environmental factors, says the World Health Organization.



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