Protein discovery may help diabetes treatment

| 27/08/2013

(Fox): Scientists have discovered that one of the most diabolical proteins implicated in diabetes not only kills insulin-producing cells through one mechanism, but also damages the cells it doesn't kill through a second, novel mechanism. Reigning in this rogue protein, called TXNIP, could significantly control diabetes, a disease that affects nearly 9 percent of Americans and is rapidly becoming a major cause of death and disability worldwide. The scientists, from the University of Alabama at Birmingham, identified several never-before-realized routes to target TXNIP with drugs. Their study appears in the journal Nature Medicine.

Diabetes is a disease characterized by high levels of sugars in the blood, often resulting in cardiovascular disease, kidney disease and nerve damage, and can lead to the loss of limbs.
Normally, the pancreas produces insulin in its beta cells to shuttle sugars, or simple carbohydrates, from the foods we eat into various organs, where it is used for fuel. In people with diabetes, either the pancreas isn't producing insulin or the insulin that is produced isn't effectively shuttling sugar into the organs.

Type 1, once called juvenile diabetes, is usually diagnosed in children – their pancreatic beta cells die or malfunction for no known reason. Type 2, sometimes called adult-onset diabetes, usually develops during adulthood and is strongly associated with obesity or a diet high in sugars and processed foods, although sedentary lifestyles and hereditary factors are also at play

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