Beta cell heterogeneity: the benefits of a diverse workforce


Lead Academic Co-Investigators Centre Fellow(s) Artist in ResidenceProject title 
Kyle Wedgwood

 David Hodson (BIRM)

Isabella Marinelli

Carol Breen

Beta cell heterogeneity: the benefits of a diverse workforce


Lay summary:

Diabetes is characterised by a loss of control over blood sugar levels. If not properly managed, high blood sugar levels can lead to damage to the heart, kidneys, feet and eyes. One of the key regulators of blood sugar levels is a hormone called insulin. Insulin is made naturally by our bodies by cells in the pancreas called ‘beta cells’. If beta cells do not work properly, they cannot produce enough insulin to keep blood sugar levels under control. Over time, this leads to diabetes.

We often think of beta cells as being identical to each other, since this makes them easier to understand and target with therapies. However, recent studies have shown that differences between beta cells are important for them to work properly. In fact, forcing the beta cells to all be the same can actually accelerate diabetes progression. In this project, we will create a mathematical representation of groups of beta cells and the differences between them. We will use this representation to explore exactly why these differences are important to beta cells. A better understanding of this will allow us to create new ways to treat and prevent diabetes