Reduced insulin production in people with type 2 diabetes may be due to a ‘super’ gene that affects the development of pancreatic cells. In an article published in Nature Communications, researchers from Gothenburg University’s Sahlgrenska Academy have identified a new genetic mechanism by which insulin-producing cells regress and no longer perform their full function.
Diabetes 2 is caused by a reduced production of insulin by the cells of the pancreas, and as a result, the body does not get enough hormone and blood sugar increases. By analyzing 124 cell tissue samples, the Swedish researchers have identified which genetic changes occur: insulin-producing cells regress in their development, thus reducing the number of functional ones.
And leading the process is the transcription factor SOX5, a ‘super gene’ that regulates the transcription of a group of 168 genes linked to diabetes, the most important of the approximately 3,000 believed to be linked to the disease. If suppressed, or deactivated, the cells decline in maturity. If restored the insulin is normalized. “It is an important study for future treatment prospects. Acting directly with drugs that can restore the maturity of the cells that produce insulin, in fact, it will be possible to regulate blood sugar better than is possible today with insulin injections.
Since it will be possible to directly increase that produced in a physiological way by the organism instead of injecting it from the outside “, underlines Francesco Purello, professor of internal medicine at the Garibaldi Hospital in Catania and elected president of the Italian Society of Diabetology (Sid).” but forget “, he stresses,” the importance of healthy habits. Epigenetics has shown us that lifestyles can decisively influence the function of our genes “.