Researchers uncover alpha cell role in beta cell destruction

Researchers say they have discovered a new way in which beta cells in the pancreas are destroyed.

Robert Stanton discovered  high blood glucose levels damage a key enzyme that protects insulin-producing beta cells. This surprising finding now raises hopes of finding drugs that can protect the enzyme, and therefore the beta cells and their insulin production.

The discovery focuses on a cellular process known as oxidative stress.

Diabetes suffers are known to have increased levels of oxidants (oxidative stress).

For people with diabetes, complications associated with increased oxidant damage include diseases of the eye, heart, eye, nerves, kidney and blood vessels.

The main antioxidant in all cells is the compound called NADPH. The principal source of NADPH for the antioxidant system is glucose 6-phosphate dehydrogenase.

The increase in oxidants in diabetes occurs due to both increased production of oxidants and decreased function of antioxidants. Studies in human tissue from Stanton’s laboratory have shown that increased levels glucose leads to a decrease of glucose 6-phosphate dehydrogenase in certain cell types and as a consequence of this decreases NADPH, and the lack of NADPH is probably what causes increased oxidative stress.

See the video below for an explanation of oxidative stress.

I do believe that instead of producing a drug to help the beta cells protect themselves it might be better to look at ways or preventing this damage to start with using more natural means like a change in diet and lifestyle. It is now believed that the pancreas can start producing news cells again and research is continuing to seek answers.