Surgery News

Discovery of beta cell defending enzyme raises hope for new treatments against diabetes

March 17, 2016

"The research showed that NAPDH, an essential antioxidant upon which all cellular antioxidants ultimately depend, can regulate the growth and death of beta cells," says Stanton, who also is Chief of the Nephrology Section at Joslin Clinic and Associate Professor of Medicine at Harvard Medical School.

The Joslin team went on to demonstrate that increases in the level of blood glucose cause a decrease in NAPDH that ends up killing beta cells-and that increasing the level of this antioxidant guards against this effect, at least in mouse beta cells.

"Preventing the death of beta cells or stimulating beta cells to grow is a kind of Holy Grail in diabetes prevention," Stanton notes. "Treatments aimed at increasing this essential antioxidant hold great promise for treating or preventing diabetes in people."

If this approach is successful, it could prove important for other illnesses as well. Abnormally high level of oxidants are thought to be a major cause of kidney disease, heart disease, hypertension, Alzheimer's disease and many other conditions. "I hope that a new era of highly specific, targeted treatments will emerge that very effectively treat or possibly prevent many of these diseases," Stanton says.

SOURCE Joslin Diabetes Center