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Risk profile for diabetes

Study finds link to high levels of the protein fetuin-A

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2:55pm, July 8, 2008

Elderly people with excess amounts of the protein fetuin-A are more likely than others to develop type 2 diabetes, a new study finds. Because earlier work showed that the protein may interfere with the action of insulin, the new findings potentially implicate fetuin-A in diabetes and suggest the protein may make a good target for drug therapy.

Scientists have found fetuin-A tantalizing ever since lab experiments showed it competed with insulin to bind to receptor proteins on cells. By doing so, fetuin-A seems to crowd out insulin and prevent it from making glucose available to muscle cells.

“We don’t understand why one person who’s obese develops diabetes and another doesn’t,” says Joachim Ix, a nephrologist at the University of California, San Diego and coauthor on the study. Fetuin-A may play a role since it seems to operate irrespective of weight, he notes. That could help doctors to identify people at hidden

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