Focus on the Beta Cells
Anne L. Peters, MD, CDE: Hi. I am Dr. Anne Peters, Director of the Clinical Diabetes Programs at the University of Southern California. I am here at the American Diabetes Association (ADA) meeting in Chicago, Illinois. With me is Dr. Raghu Mirmira, Eli Lilly Professor, Director of Diabetes Research and Director of the Indiana University Medical Science Training Program at the Indiana University School of Medicine.
What have you found interesting at this meeting? You were involved in organizing the meeting; could you tell us about that?
Raghu G. Mirmira, MD, PhD: I was asked to help organize these meetings primarily to put a focus on areas that I felt were important in the future of diabetes research and therapy. Our focus this year has been on the function of the insulin-producing cells (beta cells), and we have organized several symposia that focus on different molecular pathways in the beta cell that could be targeted by drugs, either to enhance insulin release or to prevent the beta cell from dying off, which is an issue in all forms of diabetes. We have put those topics together with a series of "Meet the Expert" sessions and a variety of poster sessions.
Dr. Peters: Do you have any answers about how best to preserve beta cells?
Dr. Mirmira: This is the direction that a lot of research is taking, because we understand now that diabetes, whether in type 1 diabetes in young children or in type 2 diabetes in overweight adults, stems from the dying and dysfunction of these beta cells. We don't have terrific drugs right now -- either injectable or oral drugs -- that truly focus on protecting the beta cell. Many of our current drugs help the beta cell to an extent, but their focus is on other organs in the body. So, research is ongoing in this area, and although we don't yet have any drugs on the market, we hope to in the coming years.
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Cite this: Beta Cells: 'Where It All Begins' - Medscape - Jun 26, 2013.