May 2, 2013

Making Beta Cells Grow like Weeds


betatriohinA recent study out of the Harvard Stem Cell Institute, found that a hormone can stimulate beta cell production in mice, 30x faster than the normal rate. The study was published in the journal Cell.

The hormone is betatrophin. Betatrophin is like fertilizing your lawn. But in this example, the fertilizer is betatrophin and the lawn is the insulin-producing cells in the pancreas.

If this study proves to be successful, it can help T1D and T2D in the regeneration of insulin-producing cells. As an added bonus for T2D, betatrophin improves glucose tolerance.

People with T1D, in the early stage, still have a few beta cells. People with T2D will likely have residual beta cells, but the beta cell mass is not enough to sustain normal glucose.

Beta cells are generated primarily by self-duplication. Betatrophin  catalyzes the process of beta cell self-duplication. Betatrophic is mostly found in the liver and fat cells.

It’s promising to think that betatrophin can make insulin producing cells grow like weeds. However, with all things that seem too good to be true in medicine, this will have to prove itself in a million mice trials before it can be translated into humans.

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