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Mark Huising Part 4, Delta Cell Research Effect on Diabetes

In part 4 of this Exclusive Interview, Dr. Mark Huising explains the benefit of his research for those with diabetes, medical professionals, and medical students as well, in a conversation with Diabetes in Control Publisher Steve Freed during the ADA meeting in San Diego, California.

Dr. Mark O. Huising, PhD, is an assistant professor at UC Davis in California. His work has been focused on the evolution of immune and endocrine systems in early vertebrates.

Transcript of this video segment:

Steve Freed: So, what do you hope to learn with doing that type of research and how is it going to benefit the patient with type 1 diabetes?

Mark Huising: So, I think there is great value in knowing. There is intrinsic value of basic research that is not be underestimated. We did not know how delta cells work until we and some of our colleagues started to put these things on the table and we now know that this break down of crosstalk locally within islets is part and parcel of the early pathophysiology of diabetes and I think that’s important to know as well. How this would benefit somebody with type 1 diabetes is it’s known that in type 1 an aggravating problem is not the lack of insulin which is obvious for the lack of beta cells but also beta cells normally somehow are able to curve excess glucagon secretion and we think that is these local feedback mechanisms urocortin 3 coming from beta cells activating delta cells, that somatostatin doesn’t only feedback on beta cells but may well feedback on alpha cells as well and will help keep the alpha cells under control, prevent hyperglycinemia and if your beta cells are gone when you have type 1 diabetes, there will not be a feedback control on alpha cells and alpha cells proceed to secrete too much glucagon, which is as we all know not particularly helpful. So, I think there is a real potential here to not only learn basic mechanisms but also start to learn more about mechanisms that could potentially be targeted therapeutically.

Steve Freed: So if you were teaching in med school, teaching a bunch of PCP’s, number one what is the benefit for them to understand this? And can they use that knowledge to help type 1 and type 2 patients?

Mark Huising: I teach a large physiology course. That’s one of the things I teach and it’s actually a lot of fun and what it does is it gives me an opportunity to not even go into too much detail on this per se, I use it usually as an example. This is the most recent findings, this is not what you would find in your textbook but we are still finding new things. What you’re learning from textbooks is what people did 5 or 10 years ago and hopefully this kind of stuff will be properly added in the next generation of textbooks. What it allows me to do is instill some understanding into that it’s not just beta cells or not just insulin but that there is this really complex interaction going on that is important to at least appreciate. And many of the kids coming through my classrooms, they don’t know the difference between type 1 and type 2 or they might of heard a thing or two about it, but they don’t really know how to distinguish the two, that they are really quite different diseases and that there is also a wide spectrum of disease and what we lump together as type 2. So just an opportunity to be able to talk about those things with them and to impress upon them that this is a very serious healthcare problem that is not going to go away anytime soon. 10 years from now, these are going to be the folks who are at the frontlines having to deal with this in their clinics and in their hospitals and being able to talk to them early on hopefully I’m able to make some kind of an impression that this is important not just to know how it works but also that if we don’t learn how to manage this better, we’re going to have as a society and as a country I think, a major problem on our hands and that’s a whole different side of what I get to do, which I really also appreciate.

Steve Freed: You know it’s interesting talking to you because your type of research doesn’t make the 5 o’clock news most of the time so what you do is kind of unique for what you do but the information, really a lot of it doesn’t get out there into the medical communities.

Mark Huising: Well, this is why I appreciate you talking to me so hopefully I can at least share some of the things that we do and that we are learning really new things at a pretty good clip and some of these might ultimately progress to the point that your audience might learn about them as a mechanism but that some new drugs can help their patients manage their disease better.

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