Research from Department of Physiology, Anatomy & Genetics sheds light on a vicious cycle that causes specialised pancreatic cells to fail in their function to maintain healthy bloody sugar levels.
The pancreas produces the hormone insulin which is secreted from specialised cells called Beta cells (β-cells) into the bloodstream in response to a rise in circulating glucose. Insulin facilitates sugar absorption from the blood into other tissues, such as the heart, muscle and fat, where it is metabolised to create energy. This process is crucial in order to regulate the body’s blood sugar level and avoid hyperglycaemia, which means there is too much glucose in the blood.
Type 2 diabetes (T2D) now affects more than 450 million people worldwide. The socioeconomic burden of the disease is substantial because it markedly increases mortality, morbidity and health care costs. T2D arises when β-cells fail to secrete adequate amounts of insulin in order to maintain blood sugar levels within a normal, healthy range. The underlying mechanism behind why this happens is not well understood.
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