Researchers at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai have discovered a novel combination of two classes of drugs that induces the highest rate of proliferation ever observed in adult human beta cells—the cells in the pancreas that produce insulin. The result is an important step toward a diabetes treatment that restores the body’s ability to produce insulin.
The finding involved one drug that inhibits the enzyme dual specificity tyrosine-regulated kinase 1A (DYRK1A) and another that inhibits transforming growth factor beta superfamily members (TGFβSF). Together, they caused the cells to proliferate at a rate of 5 to 8 percent per day. The study, titled “Combined Inhibition of DYRK1A, SMAD and Trithorax Pathways Synergizes to Induce Robust Replication in Adult Human Beta Cells,” was published today in Cell Metabolism.
“We are very excited about this new observation because for the first time, we are able to see rates of human cell beta cell replication that are sufficient to replenish beta cell mass in human beings,” said Andrew Stewart, MD, Director of the Mount Sinai Diabetes, Obesity, and Metabolism Institute and lead author of the study. “We have discovered a drug combination that makes beta cells regenerate at rates that are suitable for treatment. The next big hurdle is figuring out how to deliver them directly to the pancreas.”