"Since the 1920s, when (Frederick) Banting and (Charles) Best discovered insulin, scientists have been battling to discover how it actually works," said Professor David James, head of the Garvan Institute of Medical Research's diabetes program. "Then along comes Freddy Yip, doing his Ph.D., who unveils a completely novel action of insulin -- one which we believe plays a fundamental role in glucose uptake, a process that is defective in Type 2 diabetes."
James said there are two processes involved in Type 2 diabetes: insufficient production of insulin in the pancreas and faulty uptake and storage of glucose in fat and muscle cells.
Yip's finding focuses on the intersection between those two processes.
"In the cell we have series of motor proteins that have the ability to move other molecules from one place to another along intracellular railroad tracks," Yip said. "I have discovered that insulin activates a specific kind of motor protein known as Myo1c, which in turn performs a critical role in glucose uptake."
Added James, "While we're certainly not saying we've found a way to cure diabetes, we are saying we've found a pretty significant clue."
The study is reported online in the journal Cell Metabolism.