Study shows new imaging technique can track beta cell status

June 12, 2014, JDRF

In a recent Diabetes publication, researchers used a radiotracer or marker and PET scanning as a non-invasive technique to follow changes in how many active beta cells a person has.

For nearly 100 years, we have known that type 1 diabetes (T1D) is a disease fundamentally about the progressive loss of insulin-producing , but measuring that loss has continued to elude researchers—at least until now.

In a recent scientific publication, JDRF-funded researchers used a radiotracer or marker and PET (Positron Emission Tomography) scanning as a non-invasive technique to follow changes in how many active beta cells a person has. Dr. Olle Korsgren and his colleagues at the University of Uppsala in Sweden used the technique in a clinical study of 10 people with T1D and nine without the disease to compare the amount of beta cells in each group. They found the amount or volume of active beta cells was significantly lower in the group with T1D compared to those without T1D, and the reduction was close to what researchers predicted given a loss of the majority of beta cells in the pancreas in T1D. In another study of people with type 2 diabetes, the researchers were able to use the technique to detect a progressive loss of the amount of beta cells in one person imaged repeatedly over a two-year period.

The PET imaging technique is based on recently discovered biological processes that take place in the beta cell. One specific process in the beta cell causes the cells to take up a commonly used imaging radiotracer administered at the beginning of the procedure. The amount of the tracer that is deposited in the pancreas primarily depends on how many beta cells are alive and active. The PET scan can then detect the amount of radiotracer in the pancreas as an approximate measure of the overall amount or volume of beta cells present. The procedure takes only a few hours to complete.

This imaging technique will most likely have no role in diagnosing T1D because of the large variability of the number of beta cells among people with T1D and even among those without T1D. However, it could become a key tool for tracking the loss of beta cells in a person at risk of T1D and as a faster and more precise way to evaluate the benefit of novel beta cell survival and regeneration therapies. More human validation studies of this are needed before it can be used routinely.

Explore further: Specific protein may help beta cells survive in type 1 diabetes

Related Stories

Specific protein may help beta cells survive in type 1 diabetes

June 9, 2014
Researchers find therapeutic potential of MANF protein to reduce beta cell stress in type 1 diabetes.

Researchers find beta cell stress could trigger the development of type 1 diabetes

March 22, 2012
In type 1 diabetes (T1D), pancreatic beta cells die from a misguided autoimmune attack, but how and why that happens is still unclear. Now, JDRF-funded scientists from the Indiana University School of Medicine have found ...

Study shows roles of beta cells and the immune system in Type 1 diabetes

March 9, 2012
A new JDRF-funded study shows that many of the genes known to play a role in type 1 diabetes (T1D) are expressed in pancreatic beta cells, suggesting that the cell responsible for producing insulin may be playing a part in ...

Newly discovered mechanism suggests novel approach to prevent type 1 diabetes

November 13, 2013
New research led by Harvard School of Public Health (HSPH) demonstrates a disease mechanism in type 1 diabetes (T1D) that can be targeted using simple, naturally occurring molecules to help prevent the disease. The work highlights ...

Drug preserves beta cells in new cases of type 1 diabetes

August 6, 2013
(Medical Xpress)—A drug in clinical trials has been shown to preserve insulin-producing pancreatic beta cells in nearly half of subjects newly diagnosed with type 1 diabetes. Results of the phase 2 trials are published ...

No rebirth for insulin secreting pancreatic beta cells

April 24, 2013
Pancreatic beta cells store and release insulin, the hormone responsible for stimulating cells to convert glucose to energy. The number of beta cells in the pancreas increases in response to greater demand for insulin or ...

Recommended for you

Genetic discovery may help better identify children at risk for type 1 diabetes

January 17, 2018
Six novel chromosomal regions identified by scientists leading a large, prospective study of children at risk for type 1 diabetes will enable the discovery of more genes that cause the disease and more targets for treating ...

Women who have gestational diabetes in pregnancy are at higher risk of future health issues

January 16, 2018
Women who have gestational diabetes mellitus (GDM) during pregnancy have a higher than usual risk of developing type 2 diabetes, hypertension, and ischemic heart disease in the future, according to new research led by the ...

Diabetes gene found that causes low and high blood sugar levels in the same family

January 15, 2018
A study of families with rare blood sugar conditions has revealed a new gene thought to be critical in the regulation of insulin, the key hormone in diabetes.

Discovery could lead to new therapies for diabetics

January 12, 2018
New research by MDI Biological Laboratory scientist Sandra Rieger, Ph.D., and her team has demonstrated that an enzyme she had previously identified as playing a role in peripheral neuropathy induced by cancer chemotherapy ...

Enzyme shown to regulate inflammation and metabolism in fat tissue

January 11, 2018
The human body has two primary kinds of fat—white fat, which stores excess calories and is associated with obesity, and brown fat, which burns calories in order to produce heat and has garnered interest as a potential means ...

Big strides made in diabetes care

January 5, 2018
(HealthDay)—This past year was a busy, productive one for diabetes research and care.

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.