Canadian researchers may have discovered a "switch" that regulates the insulin resistance seen in type 2 diabetes. Study leader Alexey Pshezhetsky from the Saint Justine University Hospital Research Center in Montreal reports in "Diabetes" that a protein was found that has not previously been associated with diabetes.
Experimenting with cell cultures and mice, the scientists revealed that the protein named after neuraminidase can turn the absorption of sugar on and off in the cells by regulating the amount of sialic acid on the surface of cells.
The researchers are now searching for ways to restore the Neu1-level. "If we can remove sialic acid residues from the cell surface, this will force the insulin receptor do its job of absorbing blood sugar properly", said Pshezhetsky. If this was successful, less insulin therapies would be necessary, the researcher said.