Zebrafish Bacteria and Beta-Cell Production: A Possible Diabetes Breakthrough
Who would have thought that a small, tropical freshwater fish could hold the key to a new breakthrough in diabetes research?
According to researchers at the University of Oregon, a protein in the guts of zebrafish could have the power to boost insulin production – and if this protein could be transplanted into humans, it could be instrumental in curing type 1 diabetes.
Microbiota and Insulin Production
According to study leader and University of Oregon biologist Karen Guillemin, microbiota (or bacteria in the gut) “[I]s a rich source for discovering new biomolecules that have enormous potential for manipulating and promoting our health.”
Guillemin's team explored the microbiota of zebrafish during their study. They depriving these fish of specific bacteria during their first weeks of life, then observed how the deprivation impacted their health and development. When one particular bacteria was removed – a bacteria which contained a protein that researchers came to identify as Beta Cell Expansion Factor A, or BefA – the zebrafish failed to produce beta cells at the same rate as zebrafish that were reared normally.
“This is the first time that anyone has made a connection between the microbiome and the development of beta cells,” Guillemin said in a press release from the University.
What's Next for BefA?
Based on their research, University of Oregon's scientists have come to an exciting conclusion: BefA, the protein found in this microbiota, could have the potential to boost the production of insulin-producing beta cells. If their findings prove to be useful for humans, this could mean an incredible step forward in the search for a cure for type 1 diabetes.
So how can we get this into the hands of type 1 diabetics everywhere? Well, for Guillemin and her team, the next step is finding a way to isolate BefA and safely, successfully transplant it into other animals (humans included). Honestly, we are thrilled to see how this research progresses in the coming years!
Source: Fierce Biotech