Years of studying the genetics of obese mice have led a team of scientists down the path to an important genetic regulator that could help explain natural resistance to the disease.
Led by Alan Attie of the University of Wisconsin-Madison, the scientists found a protein--tomosyn 2--which slows the rate of insulin production by pancreatic cells. Obese mice resistant to diabetes had only a single amino acid difference that disrupted the protein.
Given that type 1 diabetes is caused by the creation of too little insulin while type 2 diabetes patients are insulin-resistant, finding this genetic trigger in mice could be important for developers trying to find a better way to treat the epidemic.
"It's too early for us to know how relevant this gene will be to human diabetes, but the concept of negative regulation is one of the most interesting things to come out of this study and that very likely applies to humans," notes Attie. Adds the researcher: "Now we know there are proteins that are negative regulators of insulin secretion. Very likely they do the same thing in human beta cells, and it motivates us to move forward to try to figure out the mechanisms behind that negative regulation."
- check out the press release
- here's the story from Press Association