- Contribution by ::
- Source: Monash University
- date:: February 13, 2021
Researchers at Monash University have discovered the β-cell regeneration barrier (Beta Mobile), which could pave the way for improved treatment of diabetes and diseases with organ and tissue damage.
The human body doesn’t repair itself very well because our liver is the only organ that can economically regenerate. We have limited opportunities to regenerate new cells or tissues upon arrival because the genes involved in development are turned off.
This method is done 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 Regenerative Medicine, led by Professor Sam El-Osta of Monash Central Clinical School, discovered that the DNA methylation levels of two key developmental genes, Ngn3 and Sox 11, were decreased, effectively rendering them dormant.
However, demethylation can re-awaken progenitor cells, restoring their ability to develop into 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 produced some surprising results. Their discovery that DNA methylation is an obstacle to beta cell regeneration in adults will help scientists restore the function of beta cells in the pancreas. “
Professor Sam El-Osta from the Monash Central Clinical School
Currently, the replacement of the damaged β-cell mass in diabetics involves transplanting the entire pancreas or islets. While these treatments are efficient, they face the lack of organ donors and the associated side effects of immunosuppressive drugs.
Current research is focused on replacing the missing β cells in diabetics using various approaches and mobile sources. In order to fully exploit the potential of regenerative approaches, however, it is crucial to understand how tissue and cell processes are controlled during development.
Dr. Keith Al-Hasani, co-first author of the study, added, “This is a novel and important finding that enables us to use these ‘sleeping beauties’ (stem cells like cells) to wake up and treat insulin cells diabetes.”
Khurana, I., et al. (2021) The DNA methylation status correlates with the regenerative capacity of adult β cells. npj Regenerative Medicine. doi.org/10.1038/s41536-021-00119-1.