Di­a­betes link to viruses in fish

Daily Mail - - News -

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.

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