Dr Cantley will use state-of-the-art techniques in molecular and cell biology to study the mechanisms by which ACC1, a critically important enzyme, influences the size and number of beta cells. His work will improve knowledge of beta cells and how they might be targeted with new therapies.
Background to research
Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes both involve a reduction in the size and number of insulin-producing beta cells in the pancreas. A key goal of research is to work out how these cells can be replaced or regenerated in order to reverse diabetes.
Researchers at the University of Oxford have recently found that an enzyme called Acetyl-CoA carboxylase 1 (ACC1) is critically important for controlling the size and number of beta cells in mice. Dr James Cantley won the Nick Hales Young Investigator Award at the 2013 Diabetes UK Professional Conference for his role in this work.
With an RD Lawrence Fellowship from Diabetes UK, Dr Cantley will use state-of-the-art techniques in molecular and cell biology to study the mechanisms by which ACC1 works in human and mouse beta cells in the laboratory. Specifically, he will look at the influence of ACC1 on beta cell size and number in response to metabolic challenges such as obesity and pregnancy.
Dr Cantley will focus on ACC1 activity in mice, isolated mouse islets, mouse and human beta cells in the lab, and human islets. He will then monitor its impact on different aspects of beta cell function (such as insulin release, cell structure within the pancreas and the expression of genes and proteins).
Potential benefit to people with diabetes
A better understanding of the role of ACC1 in beta cells will dramatically improve our knowledge of beta cell growth and function and why this fails in diabetes. It will also help us to work out how these mechanisms might be targeted with new therapies to enhance or restore the function of beta cells in people with diabetes.