A certain type of molecule found in people’s blood might help regulate blood sugar in those who have type 2 diabetes, researchers have said.
A recent study looking at those with type 2 diabetes showed they had low levels of microRNA miR-155 in the blood.
However, higher levels of a short strand of ribonucleic acid (RNA) called miR-155 lowered blood sugar levels in mice, which suggests that microRNA could help treat type 2 diabetes in the future.
The research, which was published in the PLOS Genetics journal was carried by the Southern Medical University in China.
Although worldwide type 2 diabetes figures are rising, very little is known about the underlying mechanisms of the disease.
An initial experiment showed that suggested that the levels of miR-155 were lower in those with type 2 diabetes, when compared with people who did not have the condition.
Experts wanted to further explore this and experiments with expressing different levels of miR-155 into genetically modified mice.
Greater amounts led to low blood sugar levels and improved glucose tolerance. But lower levels caused high blood sugar, impaired glucose tolerance and resistance to insulin.
The research team believe those effects were produced because the miR-155 dampened the effects of molecules which reduce insulin’s ability to signal cells to take up glucose.
The findings have shown that miR-155 regulates several aspects of glucose metabolism and is necessary to retain normal blood sugar levels in the mice.
The researchers believe this is the first time that it has been proven that miR-155 increases insulin sensitivity and that the microRNA may help find potential therapies for treating diabetes.

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