Recent Developments in Islet Biology: A Review with Patient Perspectives

Open AccessPublished:November 07, 2022DOI:
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      Navigating the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19, now COVID) pandemic has required resilience and creativity worldwide. Despite early challenges to productivity, more than 2000 peer-reviewed articles in islet biology were published in 2021. Herein, we highlight noteworthy advances in islet research between January 2021- and April 2022, focusing on five areas. First, we discuss new insights into the role of glucokinase, MEK/ERK, and mitochondrial function on insulin secretion from the pancreatic β cell, provided by new genetically modified mouse models and live imaging. We then discuss a new connection between lipid handling and improved insulin secretion in the context of glucotoxicity, focusing on fatty acid-binding protein 4 (FABP4) and Fetuin-A. Advances in high throughput “omic” analysis evolved to where one can generate more finely tuned genetic and molecular profiles within broad classifications of T1D and T2D. Next, we highlight breakthroughs in diabetes treatment using stem cell-derived β cells and innovative strategies to improve islet survival post-transplantation. Lastly, we update our understanding of the impact of severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) infection on pancreatic islet function and discuss current evidence regarding proposed links between COVID and new-onset diabetes. This review discusses these breakthroughs in two settings: one for a scientific audience and the other for the public, particularly those living with or affected by diabetes. Bridging biomedical research in diabetes to the community living with or affected by diabetes, our partners living with T1D or T2D also provide their perspectives on these latest advances in islet biology.