Botox proteins could hold cure for diabetes

July 25, 2013
The organisation of SNARE proteins in a cell. The position of SNARE proteins is shown in purple with vesicles ready for release shown in green.

Scientists believe the proteins that are targeted by cosmetic surgery treatment Botox could hold the secret to treating and even curing Type 2 diabetes.

A team of researchers at Heriot-Watt University is using new molecular microscopic techniques on SNARE proteins to solve the mystery of how insulin release is regulated and how this changes during Type 2 .

SNARE proteins

SNARE proteins are targeted by Botox treatments, preventing them from helping muscles contract. However, their role goes well beyond the cosmetic realm, such as their work in the human pancreas.

Dr Colin Rickman and his team are observing SNARE proteins in pancreatic beta-cells, the highly specialised cells that release insulin. Within the cells are SNARE proteins, which are the machinery that helps the beta-cells release the insulin to try and stabilise .

Type 2 diabetes occurs when the beta-cells can't cope with the prolonged of some and so secrete less insulin. The beta-cells lose both mass and function, but the reasons for this have always been unclear.

The Heriot-Watt team hopes to answer these questions by observing SNARE proteins in the cell for the first time, pinpointing their exact location in an area equivalent to a ten-thousandth of a human hair.

New methods of diagnosis for Type 2 diabetes

Dr Colin Rickman said, "The human body has a system for storing glucose and releasing it when the body needs energy. This system controlled by the release of insulin.

"When a person is obese, which a worryingly high and increasing number of people in the UK are, this system is put under pressure and eventually fails. This leads to Type 2 diabetes.

"We know SNARE proteins are responsible for , but it's still not understood exactly how they do it.

"Once we can understand how these proteins behave in 'normal' circumstances, how they move, how they are arranged in the cell, how they interact with other proteins, we can then compare it with what happens under Type 2 diabetic conditions. This is the first time these proteins have ever been observed in such detail.

"Ultimately this could lead to new methods of diagnosis, prevention of the cells' failure that leads to diabetes and also treatments for Type 2 diabetes."

In 2012, the NHS described diabetes as '... one of the most prevalent and serious chronic conditions currently affecting the UK population'.

From 1996 – 2012, the number of people diagnosed with diabetes increased by 1.5 million. It is estimated that five million people will have diabetes in the UK by 2025, due in part to an ageing population and a dramatic increase in the number of overweight and obese people.

Dr Rickman and his team are funded by the Medical Research Council and the Edinburgh Super Resolution Imaging Consortium (ESRIC), a joint initiative between Heriot-Watt University and the University of Edinburgh.

Explore further: New mechanism regulating insulin secretion may explain genetic susceptibility to diabetes

Related Stories

New mechanism regulating insulin secretion may explain genetic susceptibility to diabetes

February 4, 2013
New Zealand research revealing a new mechanism for how glucose stimulates insulin secretion may provide a new explanation for how a gene that makes people more susceptible to diabetes – called TCF7L2 – actually contributes ...

Fractalkine: New protein target for controlling diabetes

April 11, 2013
Researchers at the University of California, San Diego School of Medicine have identified a previously unknown biological mechanism involved in the regulation of pancreatic islet beta cells, whose role is to produce and release ...

Pancreas stem cell discovery may lead to new diabetes treatments

November 14, 2012
(Medical Xpress)—Stem cells in the adult pancreas have been identified that can be turned into insulin producing cells, a finding that means people with type 1 diabetes might one day be able to regenerate their own insulin-producing ...

Explainer: What is diabetes?

May 13, 2013
To keep your body functioning, glucose must always be present in your blood. It's as important as oxygen in the air you breathe. The brain can only function for a few minutes without either before it stops working altogether.

Unearthing a path leading to diabetes

January 6, 2012
A molecular mechanism that links diet, obesity and diabetes involves depletion of specialized ‘transporter proteins’, a Japanese–American team has found. Transporter proteins deliver glucose to so-called ‘beta ...

Connexins: Providing protection to cells destroyed in Type 1 diabetes

November 7, 2011
Type 1 diabetes is a lifelong disease characterized by high levels of sugar (glucose) in the blood. It is caused by the patient's immune system attacking and destroying the cells in their pancreas that produce the hormone ...

Recommended for you

Diabetes can be tracked with our Google searches

July 26, 2017
The emergence of Type 2 Diabetes could be more effectively monitored using our Google searches—helping public health officials keep track of the disease and halt its spread—according to research by the University of Warwick.

Scientists discover a new way to treat type 2 diabetes

July 21, 2017
Medication currently being used to treat obesity is also proving to have significant health benefits for patients with type 2 diabetes. A new study published today in Molecular Metabolism explains how this therapeutic benefit ...

Alzheimer's drug cuts hallmark inflammation related to metabolic syndrome by 25 percent

July 20, 2017
An existing Alzheimer's medication slashes inflammation and insulin resistance in patients with metabolic syndrome, a potential therapeutic intervention for a highly dangerous condition affecting 30 percent of adults in the ...

Diabetes or its precursor affects 100 million Americans

July 19, 2017
Almost one-third of the US population—100 million people—either has diabetes or its precursor condition, known as pre-diabetes, said a government report Tuesday.

One virus may protect against type 1 diabetes, others may increase risk

July 11, 2017
Doctors can't predict who will develop type 1 diabetes, a chronic autoimmune disease in which the immune system destroys the cells needed to control blood-sugar levels, requiring daily insulin injections and continual monitoring.

Diabetes complications are a risk factor for repeat hospitalizations, study shows

July 7, 2017
For patients with diabetes, one reason for hospitalization and unplanned hospital readmission is severe dysglycemia (uncontrolled hyperglycemia - high blood sugar, or hypoglycemia - low blood sugar), says new research published ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.