Beta Cells and Diabetes at UC Davis
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Beta Cells and Diabetes at UC Davis

October 10, 2019

It’s fascinating that there’s this
clump of cells in the pancreas that’s called the islet that contains all
the cells necessary to regulate glucose homeostasis appropriately. And, it is also of pressing concern, because there’s this epidemic
of diabetes going on. There’s 25 million people with type
2 diabetes just in the US alone. There is almost a million
people with type 1. And, those numbers are growing
fast and are becoming a major problem for both our healthcare system as well as
for individual patients. The alpha and beta cell are basically the
yin and the yang of glucose homeostasis. When you eat a meal,
your glucose will get taken up, or go up in your circulation, and
the beta cells respond to that. They secrete insulin, which tells
your tissues in your body to take glucose out from circulation and store it. So, the Hartwell Foundation grant is,
is wonderful, because this allows us to follow
up on an observation that we made. And this observation is that we have this
population of immature beta cells that we discovered, at least in mouse
models, that exists throughout life. This is entirely new. Nobody realized this was happening before. And these immature beta cells
are exciting, because it means there is another source of beta cells that we
don’t really understand a lot of, that we can potentially tap into and
and see if we can simulate that process of beta cell
maturation to generate more beta cells, which will be beneficial in both type
1 as well as type 2 diabetic cases.

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