A 'Kit' for increasing insulin production

July 17, 2012
Scientists led by Rennian Wang from Western University in London, Canada and the Lawson Health Research Institute have identified the critical role of a receptor called c-Kit in the development and function of insulin-producing beta cells, making it an exciting therapeutic target for managing diabetes. Credit: Western University

Scientists from Western University in London, Canada and the Children's Health Research Institute, an Institute within the Lawson Health Research Institute, have identified the critical role of a receptor called c-Kit in the development and function of insulin-producing beta cells, making it an exciting therapeutic target for the management of diabetes.

The research, led by Rennian Wang, demonstrated that overexpression of c-Kit not only leads to increased but also counteracts the early diabetic effects of a high-fat diet. The paper and an accompanying commentary, are published in the August issue of Diabetologia, and featured in the Research Highlights in Nature Reviews Endocrinology (June 5).

Diabetes is one of the most common affecting over 25 million Americans and 2 million Canadians. It's associated with a multitude of complications leading to considerable morbidity and a major medical as well as financial burden on society.

One of the major defects in diabetes is the loss of in the pancreatic islet. Wang and colleagues, including Zhi Chao Feng, a PhD candidate and first author on the paper, developed a (c-Kit Wv) which overexpressed c-Kit, specifically in beta cells. "When c-Kit is overexpressed, we observed a significant improvement in beta cell function and survival," says Wang, a Professor in the Departments of Physiology and Pharmacology, and Medicine at Western's Schulich School of Medicine & Dentistry. "You can even rescue c-Kit mutant mice from the early onset of diabetes, and protect against high-fat diet-induced beta cell defects. This is a novel finding and is being reported for the first time."

Wang believes ongoing research into c-Kit and its underlying mechanisms, will pave the way to develop strategies to preserve and restore function to beta cells as a cure for both type 1 and type 2 diabetes. This study was funded by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research.

Explore further: Chemical produced in pancreas prevented and reversed diabetes in mice

Related Stories

Recommended for you

Do germs cause type 1 diabetes?

May 16, 2016

Germs could play a role in the development of type 1 diabetes by triggering the body's immune system to destroy the cells that produce insulin, new research suggests.

Melatonin signaling is a risk factor for type 2 diabetes

May 12, 2016

A sleeping pancreas releases less insulin, but how much insulin drops each night may differ from person to person, suggests a study published May 12, 2016 in Cell Metabolism. Up to 30 percent of the population may be predisposed ...

New gene for familial high cholesterol

May 12, 2016

New research from Denmark reveals the gene that explains one quarter of all familial hypercholesterolemia with very high blood cholesterol. Familial hypercholesterolemia is the most common genetic disorder leading to premature ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.