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July 18, 2013

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Home » Metro » Health and Science

Discovery may lead to new drugs for diabetes

SHANGHAI researchers have teamed up with US and European scientists to successfully decode the structure of a protein that offers a new biomarker for possible drugs to treat type II diabetes.

Current therapy for type II diabetes mainly targets insulin, which lowers a patient's glucose level. However, the protein glucagon receptor can increase a patient's glucose level when needed.

"With the discovery, the pharmaceutical industry can develop drugs stopping the glucagon receptor from raising blood sugar levels, which will help control diabetes," said Wang Mingwei, a chief researcher from the Shanghai Institute of Materia Medica under the Chinese Academy of Sciences.

Cell signaling, the communication between human cells, is the key to how the body functions. Signaling begins at the cell surface, while the family of protein receptors, called "G protein coupled receptors" or GPCR, is involved in 80 percent of cell surface activities in the human body. The receptors control functions such as growth, reproduction, the nervous system and brain activity and are the target of 40 percent of modern medicines. The G protein coupled receptors are classed from A to F.

Wang and the international team succeeded in decoding Class B receptors, which have hormones relating to metabolism, calcium and glucose. Class B also includes the glucagon receptor.

Previously only Class A, the simplest, was decoded.

China has more than 90 million people diagnosed with type II diabetes.


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