Monday, 25 June 2012

Centre for Cellular and Molecular Biology: Deactivation of a gene WDr13 helps in growth of Beta cells in pancreas - could be potential genetic therapy for diabetes

By Syed Akbar
Hyderabad: In a major breakthrough that could help in
fighting diabetes, a team of researchers from the city-based Centre
for Cellular and Molecular Biology has successfully deactivated a gene
to regulate the functioning of beta cells in pancreas.

The malfunction of these beta cells leads to non-production of insulin
or production of ineffective insulin. In either case, the problem is
manifested in the form of diabetes. The CCMB team could regulate the
mass of beta cells in pancreas in the mouse model. The medical
implications of this research are many, the prime being the successful
management and control of diabetes. The quantity of pancreatic beta
cells determines whether a person is diabetic or normal.

The research team comprised Dr Satish Kumar, D Partha Sarathi, Shalu
Singh and Vijay Pratap. The researchers created a mouse model without
the presence of the gene, Wdr13 (WD-repeat protein), using genetic
engineering technology. The team inactivated or knocked out the gene
by disrupting it through insertion of an artificial piece of DNA in
the embryonic stem cells.

The removal or inactivation of the gene WDr13 in mouse model led to
formation of more pancreatic mass in the islets of Langerhans. This
showed that the knocking of the gene would lead to formation of more
beta cell mass in pancreas. The mouse showed higher levels of insulin
in blood serum, and thus better management of blood glucose. This in
other words means knocking off the gene WDr13 will help diabetics to
clear blood glucose quite effectively.

According to CCMB team, the protein could be helpful in finding a
potential drug target to treat diabetes, which is becoming a major
health problem in the country. Hyderabad has already emerged as the
diabetic capital of India.

The team is now busy studying the health implications of the knocking
off the gene WDr13 as the person ages.

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