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Sunday, February 27, 2011

Bangor University receives funding from Diabetes UK for genetic research

By Chad Fontaine

Researchers at Bangor University are due to study a previously overlooked gene (Pdx2) which could potentially play a part in the treatment of diabetes. Researchers hope to learn more about how the gene works and how to activate it, and establish whether it might open up new treatments for people with type 2 diabetes.

Charity Diabetes UK are funding the Bangor University study with a 14,500 grant, having made 960,000 available for research projects across Wales. Diabetes is becoming increasingly common, meaning that research into treatments is more important it has ever been.

Existing research has shown that the Pdx1 gene is involved in making insulin-producing cells in the human body. Dr Mulley hopes to discover new genetic pathways for insulin regulation or the production of insulin-producing cells. These could then be adapted for use in humans and for future diabetes treatments.

Dr Victoria King, Head of Research at Diabetes UK, has commented on the importance of finding new treatments, stating that "once the insulin-producing beta cells have been destroyed in diabetes they have a limited, or almost non-existent, capacity to regenerate." She said that researchers face the challenge of working out how "diverse organisms manage to regenerate insulin-producing cells, or regulate their insulin and glucose levels." This information could then be harnessed to develop new treatments for diabetes.

Type 2 diabetes appears either when the body is unable to make enough insulin, or when the insulin that is produced doesn't function as it should, causing glucose to gather in the blood. Between 85% and 90% of diabetes sufferers have the type 2 variety, and, for most of them, this is linked to being overweight. Sometimes, a diagnosis isn't made until 10 years after the condition begins, which means many people experience complications that could have been avoided.

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