Peptide May Induce Beta-Cell Formation

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In type 1 diabetes patients, caerulein — a peptide discovered in the skin of Australian Blue Mountains tree frogs — may convert existing pancreatic cells into insulin-producing beta cells, researchers from Sanford-Burnham Medical Research Institute reported.


Researchers analyzed how mice with nearly all beta cells destroyed responded to caerulein injections. In these mice, caerulein triggered differentiation of existing alpha cells in the pancreas into insulin-producing beta cells. The same results, however, were not observed in normal mice.


In human pancreatic tissue from patients with type 1 diabetes, the researchers found data strongly supporting the fact that a similar process may occur in response to caerulein. They noted no age-related differences in this process.


The next step would identifying the molecules that caerulin targets on alpha cells to induce transformation into beta cells to develop specific drugs to treat type 1 diabetes, one study researcher said.


They also pointed out that the autoimmune response that destroys new beta cells in patients with type 1 diabetes needs to be addressed. The researchers are working with other investigators to find a way to keep this autoimmune response in check.


Caerulein is a peptide that stimulates gastric, biliary and pancreatic secretions, and has been used in humans as a diagnostic tool in pancreatic diseases.

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Peptide May Induce Beta-Cell Formation
A new study by researchers at Sanford-Burnham Medical Research Institute (Sanford-Burnham) has found that a peptide called caerulein can convert existing cells in the pancreas into those cells destroyed in type 1 diabetes-insulin-producing beta cells.
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