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Protein

NUCKS protein could explain diabesity

Findings could have immense therapeutic implications

Obese individuals lack a protein that is essential for regulating blood glucose levels causing them to face higher risks of developing diabetes, so claim scientists from Singapore’s Institute of Molecular and Cell Biology (IMCB, a research institute under the Agency for Science, Technology and Research - A*STAR). The protein is one of the first molecular links found between obesity to diabetes and is potentially a target for treatment or prevention of diabetes in obese individuals.

“Having identified this protein, we are now a step closer towards removing one of these complications from individuals suffering from obesity,” said Dr Vinay Tergaonkar, Principal Investigator at IMCB and the lead scientist for the study.  "The findings in our study have immense therapeutic implications as they will be applicable not only to diabetes in obesity, but also to diabetes as a whole."

The study, published in Cell Reports, reports that the NUCKS protein is missing in obese individuals. The NUCKS protein is a key player in insulin signalling, an important biochemical pathway that is needed to respond to insulin hormones, which promote the uptake of glucose to regulate blood glucose levels.

Without NUCKS, obese individuals develop insulin resistance and are unable to regulate their blood glucose levels effectively. The NUCKS protein is an important clue for controlling diabetes development in obese individuals. It is the first direct molecular link found between the two health conditions and will open up new areas of research to identify drugs and explore lifestyle changes, such as dietary habits and exercises that could restore the level of NUCKS in the body.

"IMCB is now focusing research on molecular mechanisms underlying diseases, which is important in developing future treatments for prevailing human diseases,” said Professor Hong Wanjin, Executive Director at IMCB. “We are excited to be a pioneer in uncovering a molecular link between these two common health problems. The incidence of metabolic disorders such as diabetes and obesity has been rising over the years, and these findings will prove valuable in further developing therapeutic approaches for them."

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