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Gene which Controls Sugar Production in the Liver is Identified

Every organ in the human body functions by following chemical instructions called Genes. These instructions are received from our parent at the time of our birth. Researchers from Sydney and Boston have identified the gene which coverts sugar in to glucose in the liver. This discovery can go a long way in understanding diabetes and finding better treatment procedures for it. This article tries to gain further insight on this topic.

Basics to Appreciate the Research: The food we eat is converted to sugar when it enters our body. As per the energy requirement in our body, sugar is converted to glucose by the organ liver. A naturally available chemical substance called insulin hormone released by the organ pancreas helps in the process of conversion of sugar to glucose. But when the liver do not stop the production of sugar and insulin produced by pancreas is ineffective in converting sugar to glucose, a person become affected with Type 2 Diabetes.

Knowledge Gained from Research:

  • Dr Jenny Gunton, from Sydney’s Garvan Institute of Medical Research, Dr Xiao Hui Wang and Professor Ronald Kahn from Harvard Medical School and Joslin Diabetes Centre in Boston conducted a research study on this topic in May 2009.
  • They identified a gene called ARNT which controls the process of glucose breakdown and insulin production in liver and pancreas respectively.
  • Their previous study on this same issue revealed that, there is 90% less presence of ARNT gene in the pancreas of Type 2 diabetes patients. The less presence of this gene produces less instructions in the insulin-producing cells of pancreas.
  • Their recent study confirmed the decreased presence of this gene in the organ liver too in Type 2 diabetes patient. This is the reason why, in these patients, liver do not stop the production of sugar from food eaten, when it should be stopped.
  • The study established a clear link between the gene ARNT and the hormone insulin. It found that low production of insulin also decreases the production of the gene ARNT.
  • According to Dr Gunton, new drugs can now be developed which can increase the impact of ARNT gene on the organ liver.
  • In this way, abnormal sugar production can be arrested. This can in turn improve the blood sugar levels, treating Type 2 diabetes.

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