Understanding pancreatic beta cell connectivity


  • Prof Guy Rutter

    Imperial College London

Project summary

Type 2 diabetes affects 400 million people worldwide and there is currently no cure. Insulin secretion, which is defective in all forms of the disease, requires the coordinated activity of beta cells in the islets of Langerhans in the pancreas. We have shown that a small number of beta cells act as pacemakers to control the activity of subservient followers, ensuring the efficient release of insulin. 

We want to understand what makes these pacemaker cells different from the rest of the beta cells and how they function. To do this, we have established a way to transplant islets into the mouse eye, providing a window to control and follow the activity of individual beta cells and islets over time. 

We will explore whether alterations in pacemaker activity are a feature of type 2 diabetes and may be targeted to slow or prevent disease progression.