Diabetes & Cells


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Cells are the smallest scale of living things. They are often classed as either prokaryotic or eukaryotic which essentially describes what is contained within the cell. Prokaryotic cells are the simplest type of cell, containing fewer components (organelles) whereas eukaryotic cells contain a larger number of organelles and are therefore able to carry out more complex functions. Prokaryotic cells are often found on their own, for example, bacteria are prokaryotic cells. In contrast eukaryotic cells are most often found in groups and are able to combine to found complex multicellular organisms (such as humans). We each contain approximately 100 trillion cells in our bodies and they have all evolved to work together to form different functions. This means that within a human body, some cells are able to recognised and destroy pathogens (disease causing particles), other cells are able to make themselves larger or smaller in response to signals (such as the muscle cells in your biceps). This cellular team work means that many different cells in a local region working together are seen on a larger scale as a single tissue (such as the bicep) and numerous tissues can be connected to be seen as a single organ (such as the upper arm). For example, your pancreas is formed from numerous tissues and these different tissues are all made up from different cells such as the cells that make up its outer wall, and a group of cells that are able to respond to hormonal signals. The group of cells that are able to respond to hormonal signals form the islets of Langerhans within the pancreas and include the β cells that are the only cells in the human body able to produce insulin. In diabetes, the destruction of the β cells by your body’s immune system means that you are unable to produce insulin and are therefore unable to respond to any changes in your blood sugar level.


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