3D Model Gives Scientists a Glimpse into Diabetes Development

When someone has type 1 diabetes, destroyed beta cells in his or her pancreas fail to produce insulin and regulate blood sugar. This autoimmune condition has been studied by scientists for decades, as they seek out better treatment options, ways to prevent the onset of the disease, and an eventual cure.

And thanks to researchers at the Umeå Center for Molecular Medicine, new developments may soon be underway.

A 3D Research Tool

In a recent statement from the center, researcher Saba Parween said, “By using the method optical projection tomography (OPT), we created the first 3D-spatial and quantitative account of beta cell mass distribution in an obese and insulin resistant mouse model.” With this model, scientists are able to get a fully-formed look at insulin resistant beta cells. They hope the model will lead to better insights regarding just how a cell becomes damaged and destroyed in the onset of type 1 diabetes.

So far, there has been one major discovery using the Umeå model; scientists noticed that the pancreatic islets of insulin resistant mice are covered in cystic legions. Parween says that these lesions could be due to leakage of red blood cells and blood plasma – the result of vessel instability within the islets.

"Understanding beta cell mass dynamics in disease models is therefore a key aspect for better interpretation of research results,” Parween said. “More in depth studies will be required to address the potential effects of these cystic lesions on beta cell function."

Better Studies and Better Treatments

Above all, the Umeå Center for Molecular Medicine hopes that their OPT model will enable scientists to better understand the cells that are so critical for type 1 diabetics. Current research methods rely on extrapolating data from 2D images, but a 3D model can improve the potential for studying how the disease develops as well as how the cells respond to treatment.

With this knowledge available, the possibilities for new treatments – and maybe even a cure – could be on the horizon.

Source: MedicalXpress.com

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