Researchers think they may have found a unique way to maintain normal insulin production and help prevent type 2 diabetes.
Administering a regular pattern of insulin could help control and normalise the process of making the hormone, according to the findings of a US trial.
However, this is theoretical research and does not have any implications for any existing insulin therapy regimens.
The role of pancreatic beta cells is to regulate blood sugar in people without the condition. It does this by releasing pulses of insulin into the blood which then help converts glucose into energy.
The researchers state that the regular pattern of release of insulin is interrupted in those with type 2 diabetes, which reduces the production of the hormone.
A research team from Florida State University developed a mathematical model, which replicated the regularity of the pancreas cell clock that lays out the pattern of the insulin pulses.
They tested the equation by removing the cells from mice without the condition and exposed them to a glucose solution.
A high and steady stream of an insulin concentrate deactivated the insulin pattern in the cells, but when the pulses of the hormone was controlled it kick-started the insulin clock.
Co-author of the study Richard Bertram said: “This article demonstrates how microfluidics and mathematical modelling can be used together to gain new insights into the mechanisms for hormone secretion.”
The authors wrote: “Here, we demonstrate, with a combined modeling and experimental approach, that the loss of pulsatile insulin release that results from elevated glucose may be recovered by an oscillatory glucose stimulus.
“Our results have potential implications for enhancing insulin pulsatility and therefore mitigating the development of type 2 diabetes.”
The findings have been published in the PLOS Computational Biology journal.

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