Diabetes is a serious disease which leads to in-balance in blood sugar levels and is associated with complications such as kidney damage, blindness and cardiovascular disease. It comes in two forms: type 1 diabetes usually develops in younger people and the main treatment is injection of insulin, type 2 diabetes usually develops in older people and is often treated with drugs.
Our laboratory has a broad interest in what is called stimulus-secretion coupling. This is a process where cells respond to stimulation by secreting. The pancreas is a good example of this. Specialised cells in the pancreas, called beta cells secrete insulin and it is changes in insulin secretion that cause diabetes. The defects in insulin secretion are beginning to be understood and our lab is at the forefront of modern imaging methods that are revealing some of these defects.
Our group uses cutting-edge microscopy, transgenic and molecular approaches to understand how insulin secretion is regulated in health and disease. Our latest work suggests that insulin secretion from pancreatic beta cells is controlled through synaptic-like connections with the blood vessels of the islet (Low et al Diabetologia 2014, Gan et al J Cell Biol 2016).