Unpuzzling diabetes: Alan Attie tracks the internal mechanisms behind a fast-growing disease
The body makes it seem so simple.
You take a bite of supper, and the black-box machinery of metabolism hums into life, transforming food into fuel and building materials. It’s the most primal biology: Every living thing must find energy, and must regulate its consumption.
[caption id="attachment_17089" align="alignright" width="300"] Alan Attie; Banner photo above: This pancreatic islet contains healthy beta cells (stained red for insulin). It also contains a high number of cells producing glucagon (stained green), which raise the concentration of glucose in the bloodstream—indicating diabetes.[/caption]
But for an alarming and ever-increasing number of people, the machinery breaks down. The diagnosis? Diabetes.
Alan Attie, a CALS professor of biochemistry, has been peering into the black box for two decades now, trying to identify the pathways in our bodies by which the disease is formed. “You can’t find a better excuse to study metabolic processes than diabetes,” he says. “It’s very, very rich.”
Type 2 diabetes, caused by an inability to produce enough insulin to keep the body’s blood glucose at normal levels, is a global health crisis that has accelerated at a frightening speed over the last 20 years—roughly the same time Attie has been studying ...
Tuesday, March 10th, 2015