A new study has found that a specific genetic mutation common to the Finnish population may have protective qualities against type 2 diabetics. This might be the beginning of a new generation of diabetic drugs
The study published in The Nature states that the particular mutation increases insulin secretion by stopping zinc from entering cells and locking down insulin. The mutation is seen in at least 0.2 % of the Finnish population(it was slightly more in the western Finland region), whereas it only seen in 0.02% in other europian regions. A team of scientists from the UK, USA, Italy, Sweden, and Finland recruited relatives of the identified careers to carry out the test. The mutation was already known to reduce the probability of type 2 diabetics in careers but it was not clear how until now.
The Advancement of this study opens up new possibilities in diabetic treatments. Drugs that can block zinc transporter proteins can mimic the effect of the mutation. The study was partly funded by US biotech Regeneron Pharmaceuticals and big pharma Pfizer and may hold commercial rights over the findings.
“The work is a collaborative effort bringing pharma and academia together and researchers from multiple European countries,” stated Anna Gloyn, who co-led the study as a Professor at the Welcome Centre for Human Genetics, University of Oxford, UK. “It is a tour de force since we were able to measure the impact of the mutation in many different systems, including human beta-cells.”
At present diabetics, treatments are largely limited to helping patients control their blood glucose levels, and include metformin and Novo Nordisk’s blockbuster liraglutide. The diabetic market is said to become a massive $70 Billion industry by 2026. What impact this study will bring to the industry and how those giants will gain the advantage over it is not conclusive at the moment.