Can Our Body Really Heal Itself?

Wouldn’t it be wonderful if we could just tell ourselves to be healed! Maybe we can. Years ago you heard about people having spontaneous remissions. How did that happen? The body healed itself someway. I feel that we now live in such a “fearful” world that we forget how we were created. Every cell in our body has a purpose and knows what to do. Just think how great it would be if no matter what health problem the body had, it could handle it and get well with just a little belief from us. Miracles do happen.

Diabetes occurs when the pancreas is unable to produce enough insulin, which is the key to regulating levels of blood sugar.  According to an article by Maria Cohut and fact checked by Carolyn Robertson, can we teach pancreatic cells to address this problem on their own?

There are three different types of cells contained in the pancreases that produces different hormones contributing to the regulation of our blood sugar levels in some way.  The alpha-cells produce glucagon to boost the blood sugar, beta-cells that produce insulin to lower levels of glucagon and delta-cells that produce somatostatin, a hormone that regulates alpha and beta-cell activity.  Research has linked the lack of insulin with problems in pancreatic beta-cells to both type 1 and type 2 diabetes.

Researchers from the University of Bergen in Norway has a new study that suggests with a small push that we may be able to train the body to start producing adequate levels of insulin on its own.  Some alpha-cells could turn into beta-cells and release insulin.  This could be the start of a completely new form of treatment for diabetes, says study co-author Luiza Ghila from the Raeder Research Lab in the Department of Clinical Science at the University of Bergen.  Her study paper can be found in the journal Nature Cell Biology.

Each cell serves a particular function, but the identity that some take on is not always final.  Some of the adult cells are able to adapt and shift to potentially replace those cells with other functions that have died or become damaged.  They might change and adapt with injury or stress to compensate for the loss of other cells, but scientists are trying to gain a better understanding of how and when this happens.  This has important potential in regenerative medicine.

Researchers were able in the current study to uncover some key mechanisms that allow cells to switch identity.  They are looking at pancreatic alpha and beta-cells in a mouse model.  The alpha-cells respond to complex signals they receive in context of beta-cell loss.  About 2% of the alpha-cells can reprogram and start producing insulin.

Researchers could then boost the number of insulin-making cells by 5%, and the first step in learning how to wield the body’s own potential to fight diabetes.  Gaining more knowledge they could possibly control the process and change more cells’ identities so more insulin can be produced.  Not only for metabolic diseases as diabetes, but other conditions could also be helped, such as Alzheimer’s and cellular damage due to heart attacks.

Dr Fredda Branyon