Malfunctioning Protein Triggers Type 2 Diabetes
Scientists say that shedding light on how a malfunctioning protein helps trigger type 2 diabetes could eventually help offer the chance to stop the damage, according to BBC News.
The presence of amyloid protein may help create a chain reaction that destroys vital insulin-producing cells.
Researchers say that future drugs could help target this process.
Amyloid is also implicated in many other diseases such as Alzheimer's.
Type 2 diabetes is the most common form of the disease and it normally develops later on in adulthood.
It takes place when the body loses both its ability to produce enough insulin to control blood sugar levels, and becomes resistant to the insulin that it does have.
The scientists first noticed "deposits" of the amyloid protein in pancreatic tissue of some people with type 2 diabetes a few years ago.
Originally, it was thought that the protein could poison the cells directly. However, new research offers an additional explanation.
The study found that a type of immune cell known as macrophage reacted abnormally when it ingested amyloid.
The cell triggered activity in other cells, which in turn released proteins that cause inflammation.
The inflammation then destroys the vital beta cells, and the ability to produce insulin shrinks.
The researchers wrote in the journal Nature Immunology that the finding would "spur new research" to target the mechanisms of the disease.
Dr. Eric Hewitt, a researcher into amyloid-related disease at Leeds University, told BBC News that the paper was "interesting,' and may explain why the presence of amyloid deposits could be so damaging.
He told BBC: "It suggests we are looking at a very complex disease - we know that amyloid is present in some type 2 diabetics, but not others.
"What we have is a second indirect mechanism which can lead to the destruction of beta cells, and this could be helpful when looking at other diseases which may involve amyloid, such as Alzheimer's."
"It does offer a possible opportunity to interrupt this mechanism at some point in the future and perhaps stop the disease from progressing."
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Published: 2010/09/13 06:09:43 CDT
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