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Friday, February 01, 2019

New insights into insulin production

Researchers have uncovered a previously unknown process in the production of insulin.

The team from the Faculty of Health and Medical Sciences at the University of Copenhagen, Denmark, identified a crucial contributor to the emergence of insulin as a mature hormone.

Proinsulin is the precursor of insulin, but the transition between the two forms cannot be achieved unassisted. The scientists found that a substance named glucose-regulated protein GRP94, which they characterise as a proinsulin chaperone, helps insulin to achieve its correct structure - in effect by folding the hormone. Independent management of GRP94 could help the development of novel drugs in future.

'In the long-term we also hope we will be able to increase the production of insulin, ease the large production burden of beta cells in connection with type 2 diabetes and to maintain their secretion function for longer without the need for insulin injections,' says Associate Professor Michal Tomasz Marzec.

This work contributes to a long history of insulin research, most famously working with a canine model, aiming to tackle diabetes in humans. This used cellular models and human isolated pancreatic islets. It has been written up in the scientific journa
l Diabetes.


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