Tuesday January 28, 2020

Researchers Engineer Pancreatic Beta Cells that can Enhance Production of Insulin for Diabetes

"It's a backwards analogy, but we are actually using light to turn on and off a biological switch," said Emmanuel Tzanakakis, Professor at Tufts University

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Researchers, Engineer, Pancreatic
The researchers found that transplanting the engineered pancreatic beta cells under the skin of diabetic mice led to improved tolerance and regulation of glucose, reduced hyperglycemia, and higher levels of plasma insulin. Pixabay

Researchers have found a way to engineer pancreatic beta cells that can enhance production of insulin in response to glucose levels when these cells are “switched on” by light.

The study, published in the journal ACS Synthetic Biology, shows that glucose levels can be controlled in a mouse model of diabetes without pharmacological intervention.

The researchers found that transplanting the engineered pancreatic beta cells under the skin of diabetic mice led to improved tolerance and regulation of glucose, reduced hyperglycemia, and higher levels of plasma insulin when subjected to illumination with blue light.

“It’s a backwards analogy, but we are actually using light to turn on and off a biological switch,” said Emmanuel Tzanakakis, Professor at Tufts University in the US and corresponding author of the study.

Researchers, Engineer, Pancreatic
The study, published in the journal ACS Synthetic Biology, shows that glucose levels can be controlled in a mouse model of diabetes without pharmacological intervention. Pixabay

“In this way, we can help in a diabetic context to better control and maintain appropriate levels of glucose without pharmacological intervention. The cells do the work of insulin production naturally and the regulatory circuits within them work the same.”

The blue light simply flips the switch from normal to boost mode. Such approaches utilising light-activitable proteins for modulating the function of cells are being explored in many biological systems and have fuelled efforts toward the development of a new genre of treatments.

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“There are several advantages to using light to control treatment,” said Fan Zhang, graduate student in Tzanakakis’ lab at Tufts and first author of the study. (IANS)

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Researchers Identify 102 Genes Associated with Autism

It's critically important that families of children with and without autism participate in genetic studies because genetic discoveries are the primary means to understanding the molecular, cellular, and systems-level underpinnings of autism

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Autism
Researchers have discovered how a Genetic Alteration that increases the risk of developing Autism and Tourette's impairs brain communication. Pixabay

In the largest genetic sequencing study of autism spectrum disorder (ASD) to date, researchers have identified 102 genes associated with risk for autism.

The discovery shows significant progress towards teasing apart the genes associated with autism from those associated with intellectual disability and developmental delay, conditions which often overlap.

According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), one in 160 children has an autism spectrum disorder (ASD).

ASDs begin in childhood and tend to persist into adolescence and adulthood. In most cases the conditions are apparent during the first five years of life.

“This is a landmark study, both for its size and for the large international collaborative effort it required.

“With these identified genes we can begin to understand what brain changes underlie ASD and begin to consider novel treatment approaches,” said Joseph D Buxbaum, Director of the Seaver Autism Center for Research and Treatment at Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai.

For the study published in the journal Cell, an international team of researchers from more than 50 sites collected and analyzed more than 35,000 participant samples, including nearly 12,000 with ASD, the largest autism sequencing cohort to date.

Autism
Families of children with autism face high physical, mental and emotional burdens, are sometimes ridiculed and even accused of child abuse, says a new study. Pixabay

Using an enhanced analytic framework to integrate both rare, inherited genetic mutations and those occurring spontaneously when the egg or sperm are formed, researchers identified the 102 genes associated with ASD risk.

Of those genes, 49 were also associated with other developmental delays.

The larger sample size of this study enabled the research team to increase the number of genes associated with ASD from 65 in 2015 to 102 today.

In addition to identifying subsets of the 102 ASD-associated genes, the researchers showed that ASD genes impact brain development or function and that both types of disruptions can result in autism.

“Through our genetic analyses, we discovered that it’s not just one major class of cells implicated in autism, but rather that many disruptions in brain development and in neuronal function can lead to autism,” said Buxbaum.

Also Read: Vaping May not Help with Smoking Cessation: Report

It’s critically important that families of children with and without autism participate in genetic studies because genetic discoveries are the primary means to understanding the molecular, cellular, and systems-level underpinnings of autism.

“We now have specific, powerful tools that help us understand those underpinnings, and new drugs will be developed based on our newfound understanding of the molecular bases of autism,” the researchers noted. (IANS)