Carbon nanoparticles are being used by CBNS researchers to stop the build-up of proteins increasingly blamed for chronic degenerative diseases such as diabetes and Alzheimer’s. Researchers at the ARC Centre of Excellence in Convergent Bio-Nano Science and Technology (CBNS) have found the particles could potentially combat the toxic build-up.
CBNS PhD Candidate Ava Faridi said the dust-like particles could ultimately stop a chain reaction from occurring inside the body. “People can have disorders in beta cells so when an amyloid protein secretes, it clumps together and is allowed to bind with the cell membrane,” Ms Faridi said. “But when these beta cells are dead, they’re not able to produce enough insulin. This means sugar levels go up, which can cause type 2 diabetes.”
The proteins, called amyloid proteins, are designed to secrete alongside the cells responsible for producing insulin and regulating glucose. But in patients with, or at risk of developing type 2 diabetes, the amyloids clump together and bind to the membrane of a cell, causing damage and stopping it from being secreted.
Previous research has looked at the effects of amyloid proteins outside the cell, but this research is focusing on what happens on the inside of a cell. Studies show the nanoparticles — called “graphene quantum dots” — can attach to the amyloid proteins to create a carbon “coat” to stop the proteins sticking together and sitting in the cell line of the pancreas. Post-mortem studies have also found an amyloid build-up in the pancreas of 90 per cent of type 2 diabetes sufferers.
Ms Faridi said that although the study was in its early stages, it had already shown promising results. “What we did was mostly in vitro studies, but next we would like to go to animal modelling and if we get the result we are looking for, then we can go to humans,” she said.
Interview by Alanah Frost from Herald Sun