Scientists: Gene action could be key to diabetes prevention, cure

PFKFB3, a gene often studied by cancer researchers, has been linked to the metabolic inflammation that leads to diabetes. And understanding how it works means scientists could find ways to prevent or cure diabetes, according to a study by Texas AgriLife Research appearing in the Journal of Biological Chemistry.

Dr. Chaodong Wu, AgriLife Research nutrition and food scientist  at Texas A&M, worked with a team of researchers to identify the gene as a regulator for metabolism, which plays a vital role in the development of diabetes. Wu, who co-authored the study with the University of Minnesota's Dr. Yuqing Hou, says this information will help the team collaborate with nutritionists to identify what changes or supplements in a diet will activate the gene to prevent or stop the progression of diabetes.

Wu noted that while it is a major health concern in the U.S., obesity does not necessarily cause diabetes to develop. Rather, metabolic inflammation causes or exacerbates the disease, prompting the team to take a look at PFKFB3 to determine how the inflammation begins. "First we will need to identify what effective compounds will trigger the gene to regulate metabolism," Wu said. "Then we need to determine what combinations within foods are more effective."

- the study results published in Journal of Biological Chemistry are available here (.pdf)
- check out the Texas A&M story