Mechanism of Producing Large Number of Beta Cells is Discovered
Experts from UCLA’s Larry L. Hillblom Islet Research Center have found that endocrine cells and beta cells can be converted into each other. There study has opened up the possibility of treating diabetes ailment more potently. The results of this research are published in the April 2011 issue of the journal Developmental Cell.
The research found that DNAs are attached with chemical tags called the methyl groups. These tags are the regulators of the activities of certain genes. A gene ARX is known to be silent in the beta cells owing to the influence of these tags. This process is called methylation.
When an enzyme Dnmt1 responsible for this process is deleted, the beta cells (which produce insulin) could be converted to alpha cells. Defect in the process of DNA methylation of beta cells interfere with their ability to retain their identity and they get converted to alpha cells.
The researchers are trying to extend the same phenomenon to produce large number of beta cells from other cell types like the stem cells etc.