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Using mice as a model for type 2 diabetes remission

Project summary

It’s been recently shown that weight loss, through a low-calorie weight management programme, can lead to remission of type 2 diabetes. But it doesn’t work for everyone. Dr Timothy Pullen wants to use mice to create a model that can give us an idea of how likely someone is to be able to go into remission, based on how long they have lived with type 2 diabetes. It will also teach us more about how remission works.

Background to research

The recent DiRECT trial has shown that through a low-calorie weight management programme and weight loss, it is possible to put type 2 diabetes into remission in some people. However, some people do not go into remission, despite weight loss. Generally, these are people who have been living with type 2 diabetes for longer.

We don’t currently know what determines if someone can go into remission, but we believe it could be related to the beta cells. These cells are responsible for producing insulin, but in people who have lived with type 2 diabetes for a long time, they can stop working. As we can’t access the beta cells of a living person to check their status, it’s difficult to know someone’s chance of going into remission.

Research aims

Dr Pullen wants to create a model for remission using mice, so that we can understand how the length of time someone has lived with type 2 diabetes relates to their chances of remission. He will give mice a high fat diet, until they develop type 2 diabetes.

He will then reduce the amount of food the mice can eat, to see which mice successfully go into remission, and which do not. By testing mice that have lived with type 2 diabetes for different lengths of time, he hopes to understand the relationship between time with type 2 diabetes and remission. Dr Pullen will also study the beta cells of these mice, to see how they compare to each other.

Potential benefit to people with diabetes

This research will help us to understand the different factors that might affect someone’s chances of going into remission, alongside the underlying biology of how weight loss actually leads to remission of type 2 diabetes.

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