This Protein Could Be Spreading Type 2 Diabetes Like Mad Cow Disease
A type of misbehaving protein might be behind some cases of type 2 diabetes, indicating the condition could potentially be contracted through blood transfusions and organ transplants, or passed to children before birth.
While a lot more research needs to be done to determine if the risks to the general public are in any way significant, the find has established a new area of study in how the disease develops and spreads inside individuals.
Led by researchers from the University of Texas, the study used mice to test whether clumps of a misfolded protein called amyloid polypeptide (IAPP) taken from a pancreas can spread and produce diabetes-like symptoms when transferred between individuals.
Unlike its sister disease type 1 diabetes, type 2 – or diabetes mellitus – is a condition that forms over time, reducing a person's ability to produce or respond to insulin.
The disease is far more common that type 1, affecting just under half a billion people worldwide, but its exact causes are still vague. Researchers have identified genetic and environmental factors, but there is still a lot to learn about how many people develop the condition.
Toxic clumps of misfolded proteins similar to those in neurological disorders such as Alzheimer's disease have previously been associated with type 2 diabetes. But finding a link isn't the same thing as identifying a cause, so researchers have now taken a closer look at the amyloid proteins in the pancreas to trace their pathology.
Proteins such as IAPP can twist into forms that are more likely to clump as a result of mutations, which has al Continue reading