Health

Israeli researchers open path to cure diabetes

English.news.cn   2011-09-16 08:45:43 FeedbackPrintRSS

JERUSALEM, Sept. 15 (Xinhua) -- A cure for Type 1 diabetes or " Juvenile diabetes" is on the way, after Israeli researchers discovered a link between high levels of glucose and the regeneration of the cells that produce insulin.

Type 1 diabetes is an illness in which the body destroys the cells in pancreas that produce insulin, the hormone needed to process sugar, starches and other food into energy. Without the insulin, the body accumulates these elements in the blood causing a variety of serious diseases.

The cells that produce insulin are called betacells.

"What we've been studying all these years is what causes the betacells to regenerate and replicate," Prof. Benyamin Glaser, the head of endocrinology service at the Hadassah-Hebrew University Medical Schools, told Xinhua on Thursday.

"The study showed that what's causing them to regenerate and replicate is the work load (the betacells secrete insulin depending on the amount of glucose), so if there's a lot of glucose the betacells will replicate more of them," he said.

Glaser took part in the study with Prof. Yuval Dor of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem's Institute for Medical Research Israel-Canada, in collaboration with researchers from the diabetes section of Roche Pharmaceuticals.

The problem with the work overload is that it "stresses" the betacells and many tend to malfunction.

"We're still working on that - on finding a way to 'stress' the betacells without any malfunctioning," Glaser said, "but we've already managed to find the connection between high glucose levels and the betacells replication."

Even though understanding how the betacells work is in itself groundbreaking, Glaser emphasized that it is not a cure.

"We're not talking here about a cure for diabetes, that's still far in the future," he said, "but we have opened a path that can lead to a cure. I cannot foretell when we'll see a cure for it, it could be two years, it could be ten or more."

However, there exists a possibility of combining other existing drugs with their discovery to provide a better treatment for Type 1 diabetes.

"In two years we could see the first steps to cure, by using a drug that's already being developed and by manipulating two or three drugs that are already on the market, we might be able to come up with a drug to better treat diabetes," Glaser said.

Editor: Xiong Tong
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