Mystery molecule unlocks future diabetes treatments

Posted by fi17 at Nov 29, 2011 11:45 AM |
University of Leicester Professor, Nigel Brunskill, is one of the lead researchers in a study that could transform future diabetes treatments.
Mystery molecule unlocks future diabetes treatments

Diabetes UK is funding the new research

Charity Diabetes UK has announced funding for a new study into diabetes, to be led by Professor Nigel Brunskill of the University of Leicester's Department of Infection, Immunity and Inflammation.

One person is diagnosed with diabetes every three minutes in the UK and it is a serious condition that can lead to heart disease, stroke, kidney failure, blindness and amputation if not managed in the correct way.

People with diabetes either produce little or no insulin, or the insulin that is produced does not work properly. Insulin is a hormone that allows us to use the energy from the food we eat. When insulin is released into the blood, C-peptide is also released. This molecule is absent in people with Type 1 diabetes, while people with Type 2 diabetes may be resistant to its actions.

Previously, researchers thought that C-peptide had no other functions and was useful only as an indicator of how much insulin someone was producing. More recent evidence suggests that C-peptide binds to the surface of particular cells and activates their internal signalling mechanisms in different ways.

Professor Brunskill hopes the study will shed some light on the secrets of C-peptide in diabetes and open up entirely new approaches to replace the lost effects of C-peptide and protect against complications. This is an exciting area of research, as it could be possible, for instance, to add C-peptide to insulin treatments if it was shown to benefit people with diabetes.