Type 2 diabetes, also known as adult-onset diabetes, is a common yet serious health condition that can become life-threatening if not properly treated. However, in a new study, researchers at Florida State University claim to to be on their way to developing a cure for the disorder —something which, if accomplished, could go on to help around 29 million people in America.

The basis for the proposed type 2 diabetes cure is to use a mix of math and technology to restore the body’s production of insulin. Using their model of a unique mathematical equation combined with a tool known as a microfluidic device, the researchers successfully reactivated insulin-producing pancreatic beta cells in a lab setting, and they believe it's only a matter of time before they can recreate the results in people.

"We can think of this as making progress toward that goal," said Dr. Richard Bertram, a mathematics professor and co-author of the study, in a recent statement. "Type 2 diabetes is a very complicated disease. The way that we can beat it is by understanding how all these components work and that's what we're contributing to. Scientific breakthroughs are often facilitated by mathematics."

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The device is about the same size as a credit card and helps to control amounts of a glucose solution administered to dormant pancreas cells. This allows the team to better understand how to reactivate the now-dormant pancreas cells in type 2 diabetes patients. In mouse studies, the researchers were able to figure out a way to administer the right amount of glucose to dormant pancreas cells in order to reactivate them and make them once again secrete insulin, just like the cells of healthy mice.

Although not yet available for human use, the team is confident their device is pointing science in the right direction for an eventual cure to type 2 diabetes.

"There's no one else using this combination of tools," said Bertram. "It's nice to be doing scientific work gaining insights that no one else is gaining because we have the right collaboration with the right tools."

Source: McKenna JP, Dhumpa R, Mukhitov N, Roper MG, Bertram R. Glucose Oscillations Can Activate an Endogenous Oscillator in Pancreatic Islets. PLOS Computational Biology . 2016

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