Scientists believe that Vitamin D is the answer to treating diabetes. Starting from the fact that diabetes is a disease caused by inflammation, researchers discovered that an excellent modulator of this inflammation is Vitamin D. If this vitamin can treat the damaged beta cells inside the pancreas, then there should be a new way to treat diabetes.
If beta cells no longer function, so they cannot create insulin and thus cannot control blood sugar. Researchers at the Salk Institute (US) discovered that Vitamin D could treat beta cells. They have proved this fact in cells and mouse models. This discovery can also treat other diseases, like cancer.
Ronald Evans (Salk Institute), explains the aim of their study:
“We know that diabetes is a disease caused by inflammation. In this study, we identified the vitamin D receptor as an important modulator of both inflammation and beta cell survival.”
Cell Testing – Improving the Survival of Beta Cells
Zong Wei is a research associate at Salk and the first author of the study. He explains how they first started the study by looking at how Vitamin D impacted beta cells:
“Epidemiological studies in patients have suggested a correlation between high vitamin D concentrations in the blood and a lower risk of diabetes, but the underlying mechanism was not well understood. It’s been hard to protect beta cells with the vitamin alone. We now have some ideas about how we might be able to take advantage of this connection.”
Developing New Treatments
Michael Downes is a senior staff scientist at Salk. He stated that they used a screening system designed in their lab to identify how they can activate Vitamin D.
Salk staff researcher Ruth Yu explains that “this is an important receptor [and] it could potentially be universal for any treatments where you need to boost the effect of vitamin D.” He also added that the same technique of super-activating Vitamin D in the body could help to treat pancreatic cancer.
Andre Blair s is the lead editor for Advocator.ca. He holds a B.A. in Psychology from the University of Toronto, and a Master of Science in Public Health (M.S.P.H.) from the School of Public Health, Department of Health Administration, at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Andre specializes in environmental health, but writes on a variety of issues.