New discovery might pave the way in which for improved therapies for diabetes


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Monash University researchers have discovered the barrier to the regeneration of β cells (beta cells), which could pave the way for improved treatment of diabetes and diseases with organ and tissue damage.

The human body does not repair itself very well. Our liver is the only organ that can regenerate efficiently. We have limited options for regenerating new cells or tissues after birth because the genes involved in development are switched off.

This process happens through DNA methylation, a biological process in which chemicals (methyl groups) are written on DNA and change the way the gene works. This modification effectively silences the genes of progenitor cells (early descendants of stem cells) in the body and thus the ability of the pancreas to produce the insulin-producing β-cells.

Using mouse models, the study published in npj Regenerative Medicine, led by Professor Sam El-Osta of Monash Central Clinical School, found that the DNA methylation levels of two key developmental genes, Ngn3 and Sox 11, were decreased, effectively “repairing them.” “were.

However, demethylation can re-awaken progenitor cells, restoring their ability to become new insulin-producing beta cells, which pave the way for improved treatments for type 1 and type 2 diabetes.

“The collaboration between Dr. Keith Al-Hasani and Dr. Ishant Khurana has revealed some surprising results. Their discovery that DNA methylation is an obstacle to beta cell regeneration in adults will help scientists identify beta cells -Restore function in the pancreas, “he told Professor El-Osta.

Currently, the replacement of the damaged β-cell mass in diabetics consists of a transplant of the whole pancreas or islets. Although these therapies are efficient, they face the shortage of organ donors and the associated side effects of immunosuppressive drugs.

Current research is focused on the replacement of the lost β-cells in diabetics using different approaches and cell sources. Understanding how tissue and cell processes are controlled during development is critical to realizing the potential of these regenerative approaches.

The study’s co-first author, Dr. Keith Al-Hasani added, “This is a novel and important finding that enables us to use these ‘sleeping beauties’ (stem cell-like cells) to wake up and become insulin cells to cure diabetes.”

The long-term culture of human pancreatic sections shows the regeneration of insulin-producing cells in real time

More information:
Ishant Khurana et al., DNA methylation status correlates with the regenerative capacity of adult β cells, npj Regenerative Medicine (2021). DOI: 10.1038 / s41536-021-00119-1 Provided by Monash University

Quote: New discoveries could pave the way for improved treatments for diabetes (2021, February 12), accessed February 12, 2021 from

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