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Alpha Cells Can Destroy Beta Cells Leading to Diabetes

The Islet of Langerhans is a location in the pancreas where both alpha cells and bets cells co-exist. While the former increases the blood sugar levels during fasting, the latter brings it down after eating. When there is an imbalance in the number of these cells, either Type 1 or Type 2 diabetes onsets.

Researchers from the University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio and the University of Milan have found that when alpha cells increase in number, they can destruct beta cells.

Such an imbalance takes place when a signaling molecule Glutamate turns toxic. The results of the study are published in the February 2011 online edition of the Journal of Biological Chemistry.

A new protein GLT 1 is found to control the levels of glutamate molecule. In this way, the protection mechanism for beta cells is also discovered by the researchers.

As a part of further research, the experts are developing diagnostic techniques to detect the levels of glutamate in the blood.

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