Window on the Pancreas

Swedish researchers have been looking at the regulation of glucose in test subjects by making a transfer of insulin producing cells from the pancreas to the eye. The studies are expected to have an impact on future studies of diabetes.

The pancreas is what maintains our bodies sugar levels by the production and secretion of insulin. Every time we eat, an amount of insulin is secreted into our blood that is directly proportionate to the food ingested. The variable amounts of the hormone is governed via the 

endocrine part of the pancreas, the Islets of Langerhans. These adapt  themselves to this condition by increasing the number of insulin-producing beta-cells and/or modulating their individual secretion of insulin in response to the intake of any sugars. Any dysfunction to the process results in the patient being diagnosed with diabetes.

As the Islets of Langerhans are so deeply embedded in our tissue they do not prove easy test subject models.  The cells have now been made more accessible by researchers grafting reporter Islets onto the eyes of mice. So the pancreas can be monitored by purely looking into their eyes.

The study has shown that the Islets can be visualized  many times in several months and they have observed morphological and functional changes the exact same as those occurring in the pancreas. 

Along with pharmacological treatment, obese mice models had their food intake reduced thereby ceasing massive growth in their beta-cell population, meaning individual doses of drugs could be fine tuned and tweaked. 

If a future use of reporter islets in humans  was feasible then personalized treatments could be used and doctors would be able to measure the effects of personal medication, or diagnose problems with the pancreatic Islets.