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Professor Patrik Rorsman (OXION Member)

Exocytosis, Ion channels and type 2 diabetes

 

OCDEM, Churchill Hospital, University of Oxford, Oxford OX3 7LJ

Exocytosis, ion channels and type 2 diabetes

The pancreatic islets play a central role in plasma glucose regulation. The aim of our research is to explain how changes in blood glucose levels regulate the release of the islet hormones insulin and glucagon.

We use a wide range of high-resolution biophysical and optical techniques to study electrical activities and secretion. An increase in plasma glucose levels stimulates insulin secretion. Surprisingly, the insulin-secreting beta-cell and glucagon-secreting alpha-cell exhibit many common features.  Yet, changes in plasma glucose have opposite effects on insulin and glucagon secretion. The resolution of this conundrum is central to the understanding of the high blood glucose levels that are a hallmark of clinical diabetes and that results from a combination of insufficient insulin secretion and oversecretion of glucagon.  

We study these processes in isolated pancreatic islets/cells.  A particular strength of our research is that we perform many of the measurements in human islet cells (obtained from the Clinical Islet Isolation and Transplantation Centre).

The long-term goal of these studies is to explain the hormonal defects of human diabetes and how they can be corrected pharmacologically.

For more information on research in the Rorsman lab click here.