Compounds trigger insulin-producing cells?
(Top Posts - Science - 022509)

- - -
Published: Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Compounds that trigger beta cell replication
identified by JDRF funded researchers
- - -


Researchers at the Genomics Institute of the
Novartis Research Foundation (GNF) have
identified a set of compounds that can trigger
the proliferation of insulin-producing cells in
the pancreas, using sophisticated high-through-
put screening techniques.

The study, based on screening large numbers
of chemical compounds to see if they had any
effects on the growth of insulin-producing beta
cells, is the first study of its kind, and represents
an important initial step in the possible discovery
of regenerative medicines for type 1 diabetes.

The study, funded by the Juvenile Diabetes
Research Foundation, was published in the
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sci-


The research team, led by Dr. Peter Schultz,
Institute Director at GNF, screened a large
chemical "library" or collection of over 850,000
compounds for their effect on a mouse beta cell

Out of this large collection, approximately 80
compounds showed promise for further investi-
gation, and two, in particular, were studied in
greater detail.

According to the researchers, one of the two
appears to promote beta cell replication via a
biological pathway known to be critical for
beta cell development in the embryo. A sec-
ond appears to induce beta cell proliferation
via an ion channel, which regulate the flow of
ions across cell membranes.

"A number of exciting approaches are being
pursued toward the regeneration of beta cell
mass for the treatment on type 1 diabetes," said
Dr. Peter Schultz.

"Our findings show that it is feasible to identify
drug-like molecules that induce functional beta
cell replication using high throughput screening
approaches. We are extending these screens to
look for proteins that also might stimulate beta
cell replication. The challenge now is to demon-
strate the functional efficacy of these compounds
in animal models of type 1 diabetes, as well as
to show effects on human beta cell replication
and function."

JDRF's Regeneration research focuses on trig-
gering the body to regrow the insulin-producing
beta cells that have been killed off by type 1

This is one of the newest and fastest-growing
areas of research JDRF funds.

Two lines of approach being considered to
regenerate beta cells are spurring the body to
copy existing functioning beta cells and coaxing
the pancreas to create new ones.

"Targeting beta cell regeneration is still a rela-
tively new approach for the treatment of type 1
diabetes. This study is important in two ways: it
is a step toward identifying small molecules that
may induce the expansion of beta cells, and it
may help reveal the biological mechanisms regu-
lating beta cell expansion," said Patricia Kilian,
Director of Regeneration Research at JDRF."



Juvenile Diabetes 
Research Foundation International

- - - end excerpts - - -