MONTREAL, Sept. 8 (UPI) -- Scientists from Canada, France, the United Kingdom and Denmark say they have identified a new gene involved in type 2 diabetes.
The scientists said the gene, called Insulin Receptor Substrate 1, causes resistance to insulin and is the first gene known to affect how insulin works, not how it is produced.
The researchers said their discovery could lead to better treatment of type 2 diabetes, as well as a better understanding of how the widespread disease develops.
"Most of the genes that we've identified as diabetes risk genes to date reduce the function of the pancreas, specifically of beta cells in the pancreas that make insulin," said Dr. Dr. Robert Sladek of McGill University, a corresponding author of the paper. He said the new gene, rather than reducing production of insulin, reduces the effect of insulin in muscles, liver and fat -- a process called insulin resistance.
"IRS1 is the first (gene) inside the cell that gets activated by insulin," Sladek said. "It basically tells the rest of the cell, 'hey, insulin is here, start taking in glucose from the blood!' If IRS1 doesn't work, the whole process is disrupted."
The research that included scientists from France, Britain, Demark and other institutions across Europe and Canada, is reported in the journal Nature Genetics.