Diabetes link to viruses in fish
DIABETES could be triggered by a virus which gets into the human food chain when we eat fish.
An epidemic of type 2 diabetes in Britain has been blamed on bulging waistlines and a lack of exercise. Now a study suggests it could also be caused by a virus.
Scientists have identified four viruses which make copycat proteins similar to insulin, the hormone which regulates blood sugar.
The viruses can trick insulin receptors in human cells with the proteins they make. But the copycat insulin is more weak than the real thing, allowing blood sugar to soar and raising the risk of type 2 diabetes, the study of mouse cells found.
It is also feared to be a factor in type 1 diabetes, which occurs when the body is unable to make insulin.
Fish are known to carry the viruses, but the scientists took samples from 30 people and found one in ten also had them in their gut. Study co-author Dr C. Ronald Kahn said the viruses are not known to infect humans, but it was possible we are exposed to them by eating fish.
The research, led by Harvard Medical School, is published in the journal PNAS.