Using the new Imaging Mass Cytometry method, researchers of UZH have investigated the pancreas of healthy organ donors and those with type 1 diabetes. The study shows that many beta cells, which normally produce insulin, are still present in the early stages of the disease, but look very different. These beta cells could potentially be rescued for the benefit of the patient and the progression of the disease could be slowed down or even stopped.
The pancreatic islets of Langerhans play a key role when it comes to regulating how the body metabolizes sugar. The β cells located there monitor the blood sugar levels and secrete insulin as required. Insulin in turn triggers the uptake of sugar into cells. In patients suffering from type 1 diabetes, these β cells are attacked and destroyed by the body’s own white blood cells.
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