Although cases of adult-onset diabetes have skyrocketed in the United States, researchers still dont know much about the biological processes that predispose so many people to the disease. But in research that will be published in the Oct. 16 issue of the journal Nature, scientists say theyve found a protein that plays an essential role in regulating a cells ability to absorb glucose, an important step toward gaining a better understanding of the underlying causes of diabetes.
Now that researchers know how this crucial protein reacts in normal cells, they can study how it functions in diabetic patients. The findings ultimately may lead to new drug targets for diabetes medications, says Harvey Lodish, a scientist at Whitehead Institute for Biomedical Research and co-author of the new study.
The researchers discovered the protein – which they call TUG – following a five-year search for molecules that control a glucose transporter named GLUT4, according to Jonathan Bogan, lead author on the paper and former scientist in both Lodishs laboratory and the Diabetes Unit at Massachusetts General Hospital.
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