Understanding a condition that results in low blood sugar could yield new treatment for type 2 diabetes

A potential new treatment for a condition that is essentially the opposite of diabetes could offer hope for those who suffer from type 2 diabetes, as findings from a team of British researchers suggest that it is possible to reverse defects in the insulin-producing cells of the pancreas.

Scientists from the Royal Manchester Children's Hospital reported in the journal Diabetes that they were able to successfully treat genetic defects that result in a disease known as congenital hyperinsulinism, a condition in which the pancreas produces too much insulin, resulting in chronically low blood sugar.

The condition is exactly the opposite of type 2 diabetes, in which the pancreas does not produce enough insulin to keep up with the body's needs. The findings could have important implications for treating diabetes, as they help build a more complete picture of the processes that turn on and off insulin production.

The team identified a group of proteins in the pancreas that signal beta cells to either produce more insulin or to stop. Their findings also showed that a type of drug currently being tested for treating cystic fibrosis may help individuals who suffer from congenital hyperinsulinism.

While this treatment would be useless for individuals who suffer from type 2 diabetes, as it prompts beta cells to reduce insulin production, it does show that it is possible to address dysfunctions in these cells that are caused by genetic defects. By improving scientific understanding of the processes that underlie insulin production, other researchers may be able to develop new drugs that stimulate beta cells.

The scientists said that there is a lot of research that needs to be done before new medications can target this mechanism to treat either condition. However, the findings do offer new hope.
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