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Beta cell replacement is cutting-edge technology that could impact millions of people diagnosed with diabetes. Scientists have discovered a pathway to regenerating these insulin-producing cells in the pancreas. It is considered a significant breakthrough toward new therapies to treat type 1 and type 2 diabetes.
The National Institutes of Health and the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation recently put together a workshop to discuss beta cell replacement. Dr. Anna Casu, Associate Investigator and von Weller Family Chair in Type 1 Diabetes Research, was invited to give her unique perspective as a physician and a patient. She works at the AdventHealth Translational Research Institute Pancreas Biology Laboratory and focuses her work on how the different types of pancreatic cells interact with the beta-cells. The interaction of the two could explain why some people develop type 1 diabetes, and others do not.
“Until recently, we thought that type 1 diabetes was a disease that only affected the insulin-producing cells. Now we know the whole pancreas is actually affected,” says Dr. Casu. “Even the portion of the pancreas that produces the digestive enzymes is also impacted.”
The Translational Research Institute is one of ten centers across the country to become part of a consortium funded by the NIH to study the relationship between acute pancreatitis, a disease of the whole pancreas, and type 1 diabetes. “We hope to learn more from the scientific discussions within this consortium, and hopefully, something useful for a cure will come out of this.”
In the video below, Dr. Casu talks about her journey from patient to physician and her work with beta cells, and how it may change how this disease is treated in the future.