October 15, 2012

How Type 2 Diabetes is like Angry Birds

by

If you’ve ever heard of ANGRY BIRDS, you’ll grasp the concept of what research between Michigan Technology University and Kentucky University has found. For the survival of the ANGRY BIRDS to prevail, they must overpower the green pigs who stole their eggs. This study reiterates the same game plan to defeat diabetes.

In this whimsical scenario, the ANGRY BIRDS are miR-30d. The green pigs are a protein triggered by TNF-alpha called MAP4K4. The birds’ eggs are represented by MafA. This equation balances when miR-30d + MAP4K4 = MafA

Diabetic mice were shown to have much less miR-30d than normal mice. Researchers found miR-30d can counteract the TNF-triggered production of MAP4K4 and help the pancreas make more insulin.

Researchers made cells that produce extra amounts of miR-30d in diabetic mice. Those cells doubled the amount of the good protein MafA and generated much more insulin, showing that miR-30d works by activating MafA in the pancreas.

To keep the experiment balanced, researchers added TNF to those cells with the extra miR-30d. Unlike regular cells, which had MafA production blocked by TNF these cells managed to keep on producing MafA, though not as much as before.

At the conclusion of this experiment, the researchers felt that miR-30d promotes insulin production and protects beta cell functions impaired by MAP4K4. Further studies will be developed to see if miR-30d can be used as an effective diabetes treatment.

The research was published in The Journal of Biological Chemist.

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