Researchers identify protein that is critical to insulin production

A team of researchers from the UK has identified a particular protein that plays a critical role in the release of insulin. The researchers believe that their findings could lead to improved treatments for individuals with type 2 diabetes.

For those with the condition, their bodies are unable to produce enough insulin to keep up with their needs. This results in uncontrolled blood sugar levels. However, the researchers reported in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences that they believe their findings may lead to the development of drugs that are capable of boosting insulin production.

Researchers from the University of Leicester found that a certain protein known as M3-muscarinic receptor plays an important role in the functioning of the insulin-producing beta cells of the pancreas. Within the beta cells, the protein undergoes a chemical change that fuels insulin production. Lacking these proteins, the cells do not produce insulin at high enough levels to keep up with the needs of the body.



"We found that in order to maintain the correct levels of sugar, a protein present on the cells that release insulin in the pancreas has to be active," said Andrew Tobin, who led the investigation. "Without the change in the M3-muscarinic receptor protein, sugar levels go up in the same way that we see in diabetes."



He said that it has yet to be determined if this process underlies diabetes. However, Tobin and his team are planning on conducting future studies to find out if diabetics have low levels of the protein. This would indicate that boosting the M3-muscarinic receptor protein could help type 2 diabetics control their blood sugar levels.
 
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