Diabetes mellitus is a metabolic disorder which causes increased blood sugar levels. The disease destroys the insulin-producing cells of the pancreas, the beta cells of the islets of Langerhans. This causes a lack of the blood sugar-reducing hormone insulin, resulting in a chronically increased blood sugar level. More than 7 million people are affected by this disease in Germany.
Researchers of molecular diabetology at the University of Bremen have now identified a key protein, protein kinase MST-1, which is responsible for the death of these insulin-producing cells due to apoptosis (programmed cell death) and thus for the formation of the diabetes disease. This is valid for both forms of diabetes, namely the autoimmune type 1 and type 2, which depends on age and obesity.
The scientists are carrying out intensive research on the involvement of the protein kinase MST-1 in the apoptopic processes in the beta cells. MST-1 plays a key role in the stimulation of specific signal path cascades. It was possible to demonstrate in experiments that MST-1 inhibition can prevent the formation of both type 1 and type 2 diabetes. Influencing the protein kinase MST-1 is therefore a promising therapeutic objective for the development of suitable therapies to treat both forms of diabetes.