(CTN News) –insights who have identified a gene that regulates post-meal blood sugar levels.
It has been remarkable how far scientists have come in their understanding of what exactly goes wrong when a person is diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes, enabling future treatments to be developed.
Diabetes, affecting millions of people worldwide, is characterized by difficulty regulating glucose levels due to insufficient insulin secretion or reduced insulin sensitivity.
University of Cambridge researchers explored how insulin resistance is triggered after eating or eating sugar – a major cause of Type 2 diabetes – in a radical departure from conventional research approaches, which usually focus on insulin resistance during fasting.
Insights gained from the study of over 55,000 individuals across the globe may provide groundbreaking treatments for this widespread disease.
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Researchers published their findings in the prestigious journal Nature Genetics.
According to Professor Sir Stephen O’Rahilly, the co-director of the Wellcome-MRC Institute of Metabolic Science, their research approach is novel.
“We know there are some patients with rare genetic disorders in whom insulin works normally during fasting, when it is primarily acting on the liver, but poorly after a meal, when it is primarily acting on muscle and fat.”
“It has not been clear whether this type of problem is more common in the general population or whether it contributes to the risk of Type 2 diabetes.”
In what ways can it be helpful?
A consortium of international researchers analyzed genetic data from 28 studies in order to identify genetic variants that influence insulin levels after a glucose challenge.
It was discovered that 10 new loci (regions of the genome) were associated with insulin resistance. It should be noted that eight of these regions were also associated with an elevated risk of Type 2 diabetes, underscoring their importance in the development of the disease.
Researchers identified a gene associated with GLUT4, a crucial protein that facilitates the transport of glucose from the bloodstream into cells following a meal.
GLUT4 levels in muscle tissues were found to be reduced in patients with this genetic variant.
A further investigation of mouse cell lines revealed 14 genes essential to GLUT4 trafficking and glucose uptake. In the context of insulin regulation, nine of these genes were previously unknown.
There is evidence that these genes affect the movement of GLUT4 from the interior of the cell to its surface, which in turn affects the cell’s ability to remove glucose from the blood.
It is hoped that these groundbreaking findings will shed light on the intricacies of blood glucose regulation and may lead to innovative therapeutic approaches.
Early detection of post-meal glucose regulation issues may indicate an increased risk of Type 2 diabetes. A better understanding of the basic mechanisms underlying common diseases such as Type 2 diabetes could lead to the development of precision healthcare and tailored treatments.