In honor of Stress Awareness Month, I’m going to talk about stress…beta cell stress.
You thought that beta cells were passive participants in their own immune-mediated death, leading to type 1 diabetes (T1D)? Wrong.
Researchers in the Network for Pancreatic Organ Donors with Diabetes (nPOD), funded by JDRF, found that the beta cells are stressed (something thought to be present in type 2 diabetes, not type 1). Because of this, they become more visible to the immune system and less able to resist inflammatory insults.
What does this mean to us?
Well, scientists could develop therapies that support beta cells and protect them from stress and inflammation, which could help quell the autoimmune response.
It could also help develop new tools for diagnosis, beyond screening for antibodies that are directed at your pancreas (autoantibodies). Let’s say, you get screened, and it tells you that you have 2 autoantibodies. Researchers could develop a test to see if your beta cells were stressed, which may mean that the diagnosis of T1D could happen sooner rather than later.
Learn more about how you can support JDRF and their work to prevent, treat, and—one day—find cures for T1D.