PANIC-ATTAC Mice Aid Diabetes Research

The UT Southwestern Medical Center has genetically engineered a laboratory mouse, named the PANIC-ATTAC mouse, that can regenerate pancreatic beta cells after these cells have been induced to die.

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Researchers at the UT Southwestern Medical Center have genetically engineered a laboratory mouse, named the PANIC-ATTAC (mouse, that can regenerate pancreatic beta cells after these cells have been induced to die when coming in contact with a chemical dimerizer. The mouse is designed to imitate what occurs in patients with diabetes type 1 and 2, where beta cells die from overwork. Their ability to regenerate these cells makes the mice ideal for research related to type 1 diabetes, hyperglycemia, and gestational diabetes.

In their research, scientists stimulated cell death in the insulin-positive pancreatic beta cells of the mice with a chemical dimerizer. Discontinuing the drug allowed the PANIC-ATTAC mice to recover, and after two months, scientists found the mice’s “beta cells had regenerated and their blood glucose levels returned to normal.”

While inducing cell death is nothing new, the ability for the cells to regenerate is an exciting innovation. Senior author and lead researcher of the study, Dr. Philipp Scherer, explained that this ability of the cells “enables us to see what kind of event or pharmacological intervention might stimulate or enhance the regeneration.”

Dr. Scherer is also conducting research to determine the mechanism that allows for this regeneration, which involves isolating the cells that are creating the new beta cells.

The complete research by the UT Southwestern Medical Center research team has been published in Diabetes and can be found at http://diabetes.diabetesjournals.org/cgi/content/abstract/db07-1631v1.