A new study has found that disruptions to body clock genes could be a significant factor in the onset of diabetes . The research pinpointed two specific genes that control circadian rhythms that, if disrupted, can lead to diabetes. Circadian rhythms are crucial to our well-being, as their cyclical patterns inform most biological activities, including eating, sleeping, body temperature and hormone production .
Joseph Takahashi, of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute at UT Southwestern and co-senior author of the study, which was published in the journal Nature, said “These results indicate that disruption of the daily clock may contribute to diabetes by impairing the pancreas’ ability to deliver insulin .” Dr. Takahashi discovered the mammalian CLOCK gene in 1997, and has shown it to operate in several body tissues to regulate circadian rhythms.
Through experiments on mice, which were genetically engineered to have defective CLOCK genes, the research team were able to show that mice with these genes were prone to obesity and other signs of metabolic syndrome and liver dysfunction. In addition, young mice that lacked a separate gene used in the study only in their pancreas had normal body weight and composition, and that their behaviour followed normal circadian patterns. This observation was despite blood sugar levels being abnormally high.
Dr. Takahashi pointed out that “This finding indicates that disruption of clock genes only in the pancreas, and not the rest of the body clock, can produce early signs of diabetes.”

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