New Diabetes Related Discovery Involves Dark Matter
Scientists in Britain say they have made a discovery that could lead to new treatments for diabetes and related problems with the pancreas. Their breakthrough has something to do with dark matter, something similar to the dark matter discussed by astronomers when they talk about the universe, only this dark matter is inside of you.
Diabetes and the dark matter inside you
Dark matter is a mass or matter that is present yet it cannot be seen. Astronomers say the universe has lots of this unseen matter; in fact, it’s been proposed by Sean Carroll, PhD at Cal Tech and author of Dark Matter, Dark Energy: The Dark Side of the Universe, that dark matter makes up about one-quarter of all the energy density in the universe.
Now, think of your body as its own little universe. Scientists at the University of Exeter Medical School (UEMS) and Imperial College London have used new technology to examine human hereditary information—genomes—to uncover the cause of a variety of diseases.
One thing they found is that a rare condition called pancreatic agenesis, which means an infant is born without a pancreas, can be caused by mutations that occur in the dark matter of the genome. This sounds like finding a needle in a haystack to me, and this next fact will explain why.
It seems people have dark matter too. In fact, there are huge segments of human DNA that have no genes at all, and that accounts for 99 percent of the human genome.
In this new study, the scientists were able to delve into this dark matter arena using what lead researcher Dr. Mike Weedon, who also is a senior lecturer at UEMS, called “advances in DNA sequencing technology.” This advancement has allowed experts “to explore these non-protein coding regions far more thoroughly, and we are finding it has a significant impact on development and disease.”
What this discovery means for you
The discovery concerning pancreatic agenesis is important for diabetes research since the pancreas is the insulin-producing organ. Therefore, the information gathered from this research could result in a better understanding of the pancreas and possibly new treatments for diabetes.
If you or a family member has diabetes, will this discovery have an immediate impact on you? No, except to say that the children and grandchildren of baby boomers and other adults may benefit from this research in years to come.
Carroll Sean. Dark Matter, Dark Energy: The Dark Side of the University. The Teaching Company. University lecture course. Guidebook part 2, page 46.
University of Exeter Medical School