Spread of misfolded proteins could trigger type 2 diabetes | Science News

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Spread of misfolded proteins could trigger type 2 diabetes

New research in mice raises the question of whether the disease is transmissible

11:30am, August 4, 2017
deformed mouse pancreas proteins

GREEN GLOB-LINS Spurred by a dose of misfolded proteins, a 20-week-old mouse developed clumps of deformed proteins (green) in a cluster of cells called an islet (red) in its pancreas.

Type 2 diabetes and prion disease seem like an odd couple, but they have something in common: clumps of misfolded, damaging proteins.

Now new research finds that a dose of corrupted pancreas proteins induces normal ones to misfold and clump. This raises the possibility that, like prion disease, type 2 diabetes could be triggered by these deformed proteins spreading between cells or even individuals, the researchers say.

When the deformed pancreas proteins were injected into mice without type 2 diabetes, the animals developed symptoms of the disease, including overly high blood sugar levels, the researchers report online August 1 in the Journal of Experimental Medicine.

“It is interesting, albeit not super-surprising” that the deformed proteins could jump-start the process in other mice, says Bruce Verchere, a diabetes researcher at the University of British Columbia in

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