Compounds That Trigger Beta Cell Replication Are Identified

Researchers at the Genomics Institute of the Novartis Research Foundation (GNF) have identified a set of compounds that can trigger the regeneration of insulin-producing cells in the pancreas. Using a sophisticated technique called high-throughput screening, a research team led by Peter Schultz, director of GNF, screened a chemical library of more than 850,000 compounds for their effect on the growth of a mouse beta cell line. Out of this large collection, about 80 compounds showed promise for further investigation, and two distinct groups of compounds stood out. One appears to promote beta cell replication via a biological pathway critical for beta cell development in the embryo. The study, funded by JDRF, is the first of its kind in type 1 diabetes and represents an important initial step in the possible discovery of regenerative medicines for type 1 patients. A full report of the research can be found in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.