Could understanding insulin degradation lead to new treatments for type 2 diabetes?

One way of thinking about the body is as a complicated machine where every piece has a job to do and if that job isn’t being performed correctly things can go wrong.

Insulin degradation, the process which causes insulin to breakdown, is one of these processes.

Insulin is made and stored in pancreatic cells so that it can be rapidly released into the blood when blood glucose levels rise after a meal.

Insulin in these cells can be stored for up to three days. After that old insulin needs to be broken down and replaced with newly created insulin.

For a person without type 2 diabetes, the process of insulin synthesis and degradation is well controlled and balanced. However, for people with type 2 diabetes things aren’t so simple.

There is evidence insulin degradation is more active in people with type 2 diabetes which could be contributing to less insulin being available for release.

Leading researcher, Dr Melkam Kebede, from the University of Sydney is conducting an important study into understanding insulin degradation in different models of type 2 diabetes.

Her research is supported by Diabetes Australia and aimed at understanding the direct role of two genes in the tight regulation of insulin synthesis and degradation.

Dr Kebede hopes that understanding these processes could lead to the discovery of ways of slowing the process of insulin degradation in people with type 2 diabetes.

“It is still early days but we hope this could lead to a new way of helping treat people with type 2 diabetes,” she said.

Dr Kebede’s research is supported by the Diabetes Australia Research Trust. Find out how you can help support research like this here.