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Evolutionary changes may have led to diabetes prevalence in humans

Category: Diabetes

Evolutionary missteps in human history may be one of the leading causes of why people are more likely than other mammals to become obese and receive unhealthy insulin test results due to diabetes, according to a new study from researchers at the University of California, San Diego.

The researchers found that humans are the only species of mammals that has an alteration of the gene CMAH. In other mammals, this gene produces enzymes that regulate a type of sugar that coats cells. However, the alteration nullifies this function in humans.

The researchers said that this is likely the reason why the islet cells in the pancreas, which normally produce insulin to control blood sugar levels, end up dying when people eat high-fat diets and become obese.

Far more than just providing an interesting look at the evolutionary history of the human species, the researchers believe that their findings could lead to improved treatments for the condition by attacking it at this genetic level.

"This evolutionary science explains how we can win some and lose some, to keep our species ahead of the extinction curve," said Gerald Weissmann, who led the study.

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