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Investigating proteins behind type 2 diabetes

Project summary

Type 2 diabetes develops when insulin-producing beta cells stop working correctly. Two proteins related to the health of these cells have been identified. Dr Calum Sutherland wants to examine how changing the levels and activity of these proteins affects the health of the beta cells and the amount of insulin they release. Better understanding of the role these proteins play in insulin production could leads to new treatments for people with type 2 diabetes or to prevent the condition in those at risk.

Background to research

Type 2 diabetes occurs when beta cells can no longer produce enough insulin to keep blood sugar levels at healthy levels. Previous research has shown that the proteins, Nrf2 and GSK3, play a role in how beta cells work but we don’t know yet if changing levels of these proteins can help to improve insulin production and blood sugar control in people with diabetes.

Research aims

Dr Sutherland will look at how different levels of GSK3 and Nrf2 affect beta cells and insulin production in mice. His team will discover how different amounts of the two proteins affect blood sugar levels, insulin release, beta cells and the development of type 2 diabetes. They will also investigate how higher levels of blood sugar and insulin affect the two proteins, to understand more about how type 2 diabetes develops.

Potential benefit to people with diabetes

Understanding the biology behind how type 2 diabetes develops allows us to develop treatments to protect people who are at highest risk of developing the condition, as well as develop new ways to treat those who already have the condition.

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