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5 December 2013 11:26 am ,
Vol. 342 ,
An animal rights group known as the Nonhuman Rights Project filed lawsuits in three New York courts this week in an...
Researchers have been hot on the trail of the elusive Denisovans, a type of ancient human known only by their DNA and...
Thousands of scientists in the Russian Academy of Sciences (RAS) are about to lose their jobs as a result of the...
Dyslexia, a learning disability that hinders reading, hasn't been associated with deficits in vision, hearing, or...
Exotic, elusive, and dangerous, snakes have fascinated humankind for millennia. They can be hard to find, yet their...
Researchers have sequenced and analyzed the first two snake genomes, which represent two evolutionary extremes. The...
Snake venoms are remarkably complex mixtures that can stun or kill prey within minutes. But more and more researchers...
At age 30, Dutch biologist Freek Vonk has built up a respectable career as a snake scientist. But in his home country,...
- 5 December 2013 11:26 am , Vol. 342 , #6163
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Possible Gene for Adult-Onset Diabetes
3 January 2001 7:00 pm
Researchers have stumbled upon a gene that may underlie some cases of adult-onset diabetes. If so, the discovery could eventually lead to better treatments and diagnostic tests.
In adult-onset diabetes, cells don't respond well to insulin, a hormone that normally tells them to absorb and store glucose. Most adults who develop type II diabetes are chronically underactive and overweight, so current treatments include changes to diet and more exercise, and sometimes drugs and insulin injections. But these approaches often can't prevent diabetes-related damage to the heart, kidneys, nerves, and blood vessels. Researchers hope that by identifying genes that contribute to the disease, they may be able to develop better therapies. Genetic screening might also help people at risk ward off the disease. So far, however, the handful of implicated genes accounts for only 5% to 10% of the cases.
Now a new, unexpected candidate has come to light. A team led by molecular biologist Stephane Schurmans of IRIBHN in Gosselies, Belgium, had engineered mice to lack a gene that appeared to be a tumor suppressor. But mice without this gene, called SHIP2, didn't get cancer. Instead, they had difficulty breathing, turned blue, and died within 3 days of birth--telltale symptoms of hypoglycemia, or low levels of blood sugar, the researchers report in the 4 January issue of Nature.
The researchers found that the mice develop a hypersensitivity to insulin. This is not diabetes, in which people respond sluggishly to insulin. But Schurmans suggests that because SHIP2 seems to govern sensitivity to insulin, it's possible that some forms of the gene may reduce responsiveness to the hormone, causing the insulin resistance that is the hallmark of diabetes. If so, he says, drugs that inhibit the mutated gene might ease symptoms, and genetic tests might uncover susceptible people before the disease develops.
The study "moves this gene higher up on the list of candidates for diabetes," says Clifton Bogardus of the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases in Phoenix, Arizona. But he cautions that many possible diabetes genes have never panned out, and the link will be theoretical until a SHIP2 mutation turns up in human diabetics--something that the researchers have already begun to search for, Schurmans says.