July 14, 2009

A Clearer Look at Diabetes

A new research method to study what is going on inside the pancreas of diabetic patients may be just what scientists need to discover a promising treatment.

Within the pancreas lie islets, or clusters of cells that produce insulin for the body. Diabetes attacks the insulin producing cells, and currently researchers have no way to view this without taking tissue from inside the pancreas and looking at it under a microscope.

In-vivo monitoring of islet biology allows researchers to study the effect of drugs on actual islets, offering a non-invasive way to see what is going on inside the pancreas, and determine the potential success of tested therapies. The test takes actual islets from the pancreas and inserts them into the eye of a mouse, where researchers can insert drugs into the eye. Because the eye is clear, the effects of the drugs on the human islet can be easily viewed, teaching us how islets respond to different substances.

"(In-vivo monitoring) will be a powerful tool to screen new drugs or anything that people think is going to enhance the survival or growth of an islet," Dr. Norma Kenyon, PhD, chair of diabetes research at University Miller School of Medicine told Ivanhoe.

SOURCE: Norma Kenyon, Friends for Life International Children with Diabetes Conference, July 9, 2009