Researchers in Canada have discovered a new molecular pathway that regulates insulin production. They describe their findings as a potential type 2 diabetes “game changer.”
The study, conducted at the University of Alberta, was identified during the examination of pancreatic cells from 99 organ donors.
The researchers described the pathway as a “dimmer switch” that can be carefully adjusted to control the production of insulin in the pancreas. People with type 2 diabetes do not seem to have the “dimmer switch” but the researchers believe it can be rediscovered. Potentially, it could make it possible to control insulin secretion in people with type 2 diabetes.
If properly developed, the research could lead to new treatments for type 2 diabetes. That said, the process of developing it could take decades. It is one thing to prove the “dimmer switch” findings on a molecular level; actually making it work on humans in real terms is a different matter altogether.
“Understanding the islet cells in the pancreas that make insulin, how they work – and how they can fail – could lead to new ways to treat the disease, delaying or even preventing diabetes,” said Professor Patrick MacDonald.
“We don’t know enough to stop type 2 diabetes yet, but this is a large step toward understanding what’s going wrong in the first place.”
The findings were published in the Journal of Clinical Investigation.

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