Toronto: Loss of a 'dimmer' switch that adjusts how much or how little insulin is secreted from pancreatic cells when blood sugar increases appears to cause Type-2 diabetes, suggests new research.
The findings could lead to new treatment and even prevention of Type-2 diabetes.
The 'dimmer' switch can be restored and 'turned back on' -- reviving proper control of insulin secretion from pancreatic islet cells of people with Type-2 diabetes, said researcher Patrick MacDonald, associate professor at University of Alberta in Canada.
For the study, the researchers examined pancreatic islet cells from 99 human organ donors.
"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," MacDonald noted.
The ability to restore and fix the dimmer switch in islet cells may have been proven on a molecular level, but finding a way to translate those findings into clinical use could yet take decades.
Despite this, MacDonald believes the findings show an important new way forward.
"We do not know enough to stop Type-2 diabetes yet, but this is a large step towards understanding what is going wrong in the first place," MacDonald noted.
The study appeared in the Journal of Clinical Investigation.