Prize-winning model for diabetes research
Cell biologists at Linköping University have developed a mathematical model that, over the long-term, is intended to replace laboratory animals when new treatments for Type 2 diabetes are to be tested (“adult onset diabetes”).
In patients with Type 2 diabetes, the body’s sugar regulation does not function as it should. It is an issue of disruptions in the complex interactions between various organs, but also inside individual fat cells.
LiU researchers have used fat cells from patients and built up an experimental system where they can measure what really happens when the balance between sugar and insulin is disrupted. They then constructed a computer model for fat cells, which was combined with what’s called a “whole-body model”, which was previously approved in the United States for certifying certain types of insulin treatments.
The result is a multi-level model that simultaneously describes details inside a cell and the overall flows of sugar and insulin in and out of the various organs.
The hope is that the multi-level model will be useful while developing other medicines than insulin, and in the long-term that it will replace laboratory animals. The LiU researchers work method is also important for the combination of different types of knowledge about diabetes. The shortage of this kind of knowledge integration is one of the larger stumbling blocks in diabetes research today.
The work, published in the Journal of Biological Chemistry, has been selected as November’s Model of the Month by EMBL Biomodels Database, the largest database for systems biology models.
Article: Nyman E, Brännmark C, Palmér R, Brugård J, Nyström FH, Strålfors P, Cedersund G. A Hierarchical Whole-body Modeling Approach Elucidates the Link between in Vitro Insulin Signaling and in Vivo Glucose Homeostasis. J Biol Chem 2011 Jul; 286(29): 26028-41.
Text: Åke Hjelm
Last updated: 2012-12-10