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The recent identification of a protein associated with the development of type 2 diabetes may lead to new drugs used to combat the condition, scientists say.
After noting the role of inflammation in diabetes symptoms, a team of researchers led by the Swiss scientist Jurg Tschopp set out to understand the processes which activate the inflammasome NLRP3 - a cluster of proteins that stimulate this type of response, HealthDay News reports.
The study, published in the December 21 edition of Nature Immunology, found that when a protein called TXNIP is exposed to oxidative stress, it binds to NLRP3 and produces the molecule IL-1b, which is also produced by the pancreas in response to high blood sugar.
"Our findings predict that type 2 diabetes can be treated by inhibitors of the inflammasome or IL-1b," said Tschopp.
He added that preliminary studies of the treatment on humans have already been initiated with success. "With a single injection of IL-1b inhibitors, glucose levels in diabetes patients are highly reduced over six months," he explained.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, about 23.6 million people, or 7.8 percent of the population, had diabetes as of 2007.
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