Insulin releasing switch discovered

Washington: Scientists have discovered the molecular switch for the secretion of insulin, the hormone that regulates blood sugar, a finding they claim may soon pave the way for a better treatment for type 2 diabetes.

A team at John Hopkins University claims that the finding solves a longtime mystery and would provide for the first time an explanation of the process of insulin secretion, the `Cell Metabolism` journal reported.

"Before our discovery, the mechanism behind how exactly the insulin-producing beta cells in the islet of Langerhans of the pancreas fail in type 2 diabetes was incompletely understood, making it difficult to design new and better therapies. Our research cracks open a decades-long mystery," said lead researcher Mehboob Hussain.

After a meal, the pancreas produces insulin to move glucose from the blood into cells for fuel. People with type 2 diabetes either don`t secrete enough insulin or their cells are resistant to its effects.

In their study designed to figure out more precisely how the pancreas releases insulin, the team looked at how other cells in the body release chemicals.

One particular protein, Snapin, found in nerve cells, caught their eye because it`s used by nerve cells to release chemicals necessary for cell communication. Snapin also is found in the insulin-secreting pancreatic beta cells.