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Findings from a recent study could open the door to the development of new medications that help diabetics significantly improve their insulin test results by enabling them to regrow cells that produce the blood sugar-lowering hormone.
Researchers from Stanford University found that a molecule called platelet-derived growth factor, or PDGF, plays a central role in the ability of insulin-producing beta cells in the pancreas to regenerate.
The findings could have important implications for the treatment of both types of diabetes. In type 1 diabetes, the body's immune system attacks and destroys beta cells. In type 2 diabetes, there are simply not enough beta cells to keep up with the body's demands for insulin.
The researchers said it may be possible to develop a medication that stimulates PDGF and prompts it to facilitate the growth of new beta cells.
"We're hopeful that soon we might be able to manipulate this pathway in a therapeutic way in humans," said lead researcher Seung Kim, MD "Perhaps by rekindling its expression and then activating it through a drug we could give in an injection or through some other route. This could be a kind of one-two punch against diabetes."
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