A team of scientists—led by researchers at the Bridge Institute at the USC Michelson Center for Convergent Bioscience—have for the first time actually looked at a pancreatic cell as it was packaging insulin and responding to a drug treatment. Their work marks a new way to understand diabetes, which kills nearly 85,000 Americans each year.
“We can understand things much better when we have both biochemical data and pictures so we can see exactly what’s going on inside the pancreatic beta cell. This gives us a whole new insight, and you always need fresh perspectives to look at a problem to find new solutions,” said Kate White, Ph.D., lead author of the research, a USC assistant professor of molecular and computational biology, and director of the Pancreatic Beta Cell Consortium at the Bridge Institute.
Results of the work by Dr. White and her team appear in the journal Science Advances. While researchers emphasize that these findings are not a cure for diabetes, the research provides new ways to study the cell to understand how drugs work, gains that can advance new treatments – possibly including stem cells to manufacture an entire pancreas.