In diabetes sufferers the insulin-producing beta cells, present in groups called islets in the pancreas, grow and multiply. Examining beta cells over time would therefore be a good indicator of diabetic status. But it’s currently very difficult to measure, as finding these cells in the pancreas is too complicated and invasive a process to perform regularly. Recently, scientists have found a convenient way to monitor these cells in mice with minimal surgery. The mouse islets are transplanted onto the eye of the mouse, where they can be clearly visualised for months. These ‘reporter’ islets mimic those in the pancreas, growing in size and reddening with an increased blood supply in diabetic mice (bottom row), but remaining the same in non-diabetic mice (top row). This could help in the development of new treatments for diabetes in mouse models, or eventually to keep an eye on diabetes in humans.
Written by Emma Saxon
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