Researchers uncover remaining critical insulin gene regulatory factor

1 min read

Discovery opens up new research avenues for developing insulin-producing cells to treat diabetes

Scientists have known the identity of two genes that can influence the ability of insulin genes to trigger insulin production in the beta cells of the pancreas. Through subsequent research it has been demonstrated that these two genes are at least partially responsible for a form of diabetes called maturity onset diabetes of the young (MODY), which causes about 2-3 percent of all diabetes. But previous research has also clearly suggested that there was a third gene (termed RIPE3b1 factor) that played a critical role in controlling insulin production. Interestingly, the RIPE3b1 factor also plays a critical role in the ability of insulin producing cells to sense changes in glucose levels and appropriately regulate the insulin gene to trigger insulin production. But scientists had been unable to isolate and clone this factor to test for its role in insulin production and development of diabetes. In a paper published in the May 14, 2002, issue of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Joslin Diabetes researcher Arun Sharma and colleagues reported that they have been able to identify and clone the RIPE3b1 factor. Sharma is an instructor in medicine at Harvard Medical School.