LONDON — New research on a rare genetic disorder in which the pancreas fails to grow could shed light on how the organ develops and lead to treatments for Type 1 diabetes.
In a study published in the journal Nature Genetics, an international team of researchers led by scientists at England's University of Exeter discovered a genetic mutation present in 15-in-27 people with a condition called pancreatic agenesis, finding a key role for the gene, GATA6, in the development of pacreatic cells.
"This rare genetic condition has provided us with a surprising insight into how the pancreas develops," Exeter medical professor Andrew Hattersley said. "What is it that programs cells to become pancreatic beta cells? Our study suggests that GATA6 plays a very important role in this process, and we hope this will help the crucial work to try and make beta cells for patients with Type 1 diabetes."
In patients with Type 1 diabetes, the immune system attacks and destroys pancreatic beta cells, leaving the body unable to regulate blood glucose.