Diabetes,one of the fastest rising ‘epidemics’ in the world, is caused due to a decrease in secretion of the hormone insulin from cells called the ‘beta-cells’ in the pancreas. It may also be caused by the production of an ineffective form of insulin. Click here to find out more about the symptoms of diabetes.
Now, if the functioning of the beta cells and insulin can be made effective by a gene which regulates them, it could hold wonders for the control and treatment of diabetes.
Researchers at the Centre for Cellular and Molecular Biology in Hyderabad seem to have figured out just the right gene to help with this purpose.
Dr Satish Kumar, D. Partha Sarathi, Shalu Singh and Vijay Pratap (the research team) created a mouse model without the presence of the gene, Wdr13 (WD-repeat protein). They did this using genetic engineering technology. They knocked out or inactivated the Wdr13 gene by inserting an artificial piece of DNA in the embryonic stem cells and disrupting it. What this led to is formation of more pancreatic cells including beta cells, better secretion of insulin and good control of diabetes.
This breakthrough research can help find a potential drug-target which can treat diabetes.
Many questions are yet to be answered: Will the research on the mouse-model hold good for human beings too? Will it be as effective with ageing in humans? Even if it is not, this still holds a lot of promise and may be the basis of research which could potentially wipe diabetes off our planet.