SMASHED ON SCIENCE
The debut of the ‘Pint of Science‘ festival recently took over Exeter pubs, and Exeposé Science and Tech are here to give you the best bits, and fill you in on what you may have missed.
Evie Brown provides a short snippet from the presentation “Diabetes: Islands of Hope”,
hosted by Prof. Noel Morgan at The Rusty Bike.
Over 3 million people in the UK are affected by diabetes, a disease prevalent throughout history. Aretaeus of Cappadocia (150AD) described diabetes as “a melting down of flesh and libs into urine”, which although gruesome, is a fairly accurate description, given that an untreated patient can produce up to 30 pints of sweet urine a day.
This sweet sugary urine results from the failure of insulin to enable glucose metabolism, leading to starvation in the midst of plenty. For the patients with type 2 diabetes, this results from an insulin resistance and is often associated with what we eat. Whereas for the 10% of those with type 1 diabetes, immune cells invade the pancreas and chew up the insulin producing cells – the islets of Langerhans.
These islets of Langerhans, floating about in the sea of pancreas cells like islands, are mini organs in their own right, acting independently of their neighbours, with their own nerve and blood supply.
According to Professor Morgan here at the University of Exeter, it is these cells that give us hope. Hope that can be seen in a type 1 diabetes patient of 50 years, with insulin in their pancreas, defying what we understand to be true. To Professor Morgan this observation suggests the regrowth of the islets of Langerhans and, along with his research team, is trying to gain a deeper understanding.
Perhaps one day, a treatment for those with type 1 diabetes could persuade the regeneration of the islets of Langerhans – the islands of hope.
For more of our ‘Pint of Science’ articles (Smashed on Science), click here!