October 7, 2012
Core Biology 1 Honors/ C-Block, Ms. Davies
Current Event Report: High Stress Can Make Insulin Cells Regress
Schaffer, Amanda. "High Stress Can Make Insulin Cells Regress." The New York Times. The New York Times, 02 Oct. 2012. Web. 07 Oct. 2012.
Researchers at Columbia University have been discussing a possible treatment for Type 2 diabetes by fixing the problem at the molecular level. This form of diabetes occurs when your body loses the ability to produce enough insulin, a hormone that helps move glucose from the bloodstream to individual cells so it can be used as energy. It was previously believed that these beta cells died, but this new research has shown that the cells do not die; they revert to a “progenitor” state. This means that they change to a form that they would have been in during early development. Dr. Domenico Accili, the director of this research thinks it possible to find a way to restore the beta cells back to their original form and produce insulin. In order to reverse this process the reason for it needed to be discovered. Dr. Accili found that the protein FOXO1 disappeared as the beta cells stopped working. Testing on genetically engineered mice that lacked FOXO1 he was able to discover that when under stress, for example, old age or pregnancy, the mice developed high blood sugar and became Type 2 diabetic. Protein cells that were normally seen during fetal development were also found, leading Dr. Accili to the conclusion that the beta cells were losing their identities. It is not yet clear why this is happening but from this research doctors have been recommended not to push the beta cells of diabetics to produce more insulin but to try and relieve the stress of them. The beta cells are able to change into different types of cell, “why not become beta cells again?” – Dr. Accili. Research continues for the cure to Type 2 diabetes, using these new facts a cure is on its way.
This research is groundbreaking. Knowing that insulin cells change into an earlier development of themselves gives scientist something to work off of. They were able to conclude that what doctors currently are doing isn't helping and have formed an idea of what needs to be done. People all over the world are personally affected by diabetes, me included. I chose this article because my grandfather has diabetes and I wanted to learn about the work that people are putting into fixing this serious problem. A cure to this disease would improve the lives of millions of people. For those who have it they have to be on strict diets, and if it gets really bad can constantly be suffering from fatigue, blurry vision, hunger, etc. For the people who don’t have it chances are someone it their life does. It is important that there are always scientists out there trying to solve the common problems, improving lives everywhere. The results from this research take us one step closer to finding the cure to diabetes.
In general I thought this was a well-written article with great points. However, I would recommend that the author, Amanda Schaffer, talk more about the purpose of this research. Diabetes is a topic that affects thousands of people and I think this article would be better with a section explaining what diabetes is and why this research is so important. The article, also did not mention why lacking insulin was bad. The entire article was talking about needing to restore insulin but the author failed to mention why that needed to happen. This article seems more geared towards fellow scientists and not to people who want to learn about diabetes in a simple way. All of the details about the molecular problem were good but adding a simple part would have allowed the article to be understood by greater groups of people. I did like that this article ended on a positive note that the cure to diabetes was a challenge but there were a lot of people working on it, implying that in time we will see an answer.