Targeting a protein found in the pancreas could help to treat type 2 diabetes, scientists have discovered.
New research published in The FASEB Journal has revealed the protein TSPAN2 may play an important role in preventing hyperglycemia-induced beta cell death.
The study, conducted at the Korea Basic Science Institute, South Korea found this novel cellular membrane protein regulates the death of insulin-producing beta cells, and could lead to new therapeutic targets.
Ik-Soon Jang, study author and senior scientist in the Division of Bioconvergence at the Korea Basic Science Institute, said: “The prevalence of type 2 diabetes is significantly increased nowadays. Our study will be potentially helpful to develop the medicine for the treatment of type 2 diabetes.”
Hyperglycemia is often caused from a loss of insulin-producing cells in the pancreas, normally as a result of beta-cell apoptosis.
In this new research, scientists grew human pancreatic beta cells to evaluate their gene expression patterns as part of their study into preventing cell death.
They found that highly expressed proteins can stunt the death of cells through an array of signals, including various pro-inflammatory cytokines.
Thoru Pederso, Ph.D., Editor-in-Chief of The FASEB Journal, said: “The revelation of a novel pathway related to the induction of pancreatic beta cells apoptosis could have exciting implications for future treatments for type 2 diabetes.
“If drugs that inhibit the loss of these cells can be developed, it may be possible to attenuate disease progression.”

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