Researchers discover key protein in insulin production

A team of UK researchers has discovered a protein that is vital in maintaining blood sugar levels. The finding could lead to the development of drugs that offer individuals with type 1 or type 2 diabetes better control over their blood sugar levels.

The University of Leicester researchers reported in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences that a specific protein known as the M-3 muscarinic receptor becomes activated following food consumption. This protein signals beta cells in the pancreas to start producing insulin.

However, if the protein is not functioning properly, it will not signal the beta cells. This can cause blood sugar levels to fluctuate out of control.

"Without the change in the M3-muscarinic receptor protein sugar levels go up in the same way that we see in diabetes," said Andrew Torbin, who led the study.

"We are of course testing if the mechanism of controlling sugar levels we have discovered is one of the mechanisms disrupted in diabetes. If this were the case then our studies would have important implications in diabetes," he added.
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