Researchers Identify Protein Which May Help Prevent Diabetes
Canadian researchers have identified a new protein which may play a key role in the onset of diabetes. The VAMP8 protein plays an essential role in releasing insulin from the pancreas. Researchers will be studying this new protein in more depth to get a better understanding of the role it plays in regulating insulin and keeping glucose levels in check.
Additional research in the mechanics of this new protein may pave the way for new drugs to treat the onset of diabetes. Researchers expect that these drugs will play a key role in treating both type 1 and type 2 diabetes.
Insulin secreting granules often become less effective over time. It becomes more difficult for them to fuse with the membranes effectively. When this abnormality occurs, the pancreas is unable to release insulin into the bloodstream. Diabetes commonly arises from this process.
[box type=”note”]However, some insulin secreting granules don’t work this way. They want to bind with the cell membrane right away. These granules (commonly referred to as “newcomers”) can actually release more insulin than is lost from the atrophying process with the other granules.[/box]
Herbert Gaisano is a medical researcher at theÂ Toronto Western Research Institute. Gaisano said his team’s research shows that the previously unidentified VAMP8 protein may be one of the most important proteins for regulating the rate of insulin secretion. The process is determined by its ability to prompt newcomer granules responsible for secreting insulin to fuse with the plasma membranes. The exact relationship between VAMP8 and the development of diabetes has not yet been confirmed. However, his team expects an abnormally functioning VAMP8 protein significantly increases the risk of developing diabetes.
If the VAMP8 protein is as effective in prompting newcomer insulin secreting granules as Gaisano’s research indicates, then it probably plays a key role in delaying or preventing the onset of diabetes.
However, they also have to take other factors into consideration. Gaisano’s team found that the presence of VAMP8 proteins may curtain the development of beta cells. Beta cells can be helpful for helping patients who have developed diabetes. This may indicate that the VAMP8 protein could be more of a risk than a benefit to patients who have already developed the condition. Additional research will need to be conducted before this relationship can be more fully understood.
The research shows that some drugs already on the market operate similarly to the VAMP8 protein. These drugs have already been shown to be effective treatment tools for diabetes. If a relationship between the VAMP8 protein and the treatment for diabetes is found, scientists may want to target the drugs directly towards regulating the protein itself rather than mimicking its effects.