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An international research collaboration led by researchers from the Universities of Helsinki and Oxford has identified the biological mechanism through which a genetic variant protects against type 2 diabetes.

Study decodes gene function that protects against type 2 diabetes

The study, published in the journal Nature Genetics, finds that changes in a gene which makes zinc transporter proteins reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes by enhancing insulin secretion from the pancreas.

Type 2 diabetes affects almost 400 million people across the world. It is caused by a combination of lifestyle as well as genetic factors which together result in high blood sugar levels.

One such genetic factor is a variation in a gene called SLC30A8, which encodes a protein which carries zinc. This protein is important, because zinc is essential for ensuring that insulin, (the only hormone that can reduce blood sugar levels) has the right shape in the beta-cells of the pancreas.

Read more (Radcliffe Department of Medicine website)