SINGAPORE - Scientists from the Institute of Molecular and Cell Biology (IMCB), have discovered that obese individuals lack a protein essential for regulating blood glucose levels, causing a higher risk of diabetes.
The protein is one of the first molecular links found between obesity and diabetes, the researchers said. It is potentially a target for the treatment or prevention of diabetes in those who are obese.
Called Nuclear Ubiquitous casein and Cyclin-dependent Kinase Substrate (Nucks), it plays a key role in insulin signalling. Without this protein, obese individuals develop insulin resistance and are unable to regulate their blood glucose levels properly. This causes their bodies to constantly experience high levels of blood glucose, making them more susceptible to diabetes.
This finding could lead to the development of new drugs to restore the level of the protein in the body.
"The findings in our study have immense therapeutic implications as they will be applicable to not only diabetes in obesity, but diabetes as a whole," said Dr Vinay Tergoankar, the principal investigator of the study.
In Singapore, one in nine people is obese. And diabetes affects more than 11 per cent of Singapore's population.