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Scientists discover gene regulator that can help fight diabetes, cancer

All Headlines 01:00 December 11, 2009

SEOUL, Dec. 11 (Yonhap) -- A group of South Korean scientists has discovered a microRNA in fruit flies that may help reveal new ways to fight diabetes and cancer, a state-run research foundation said Friday.

According to the National Research Foundation of Korea, the group led by Kim V. Narry, a researcher at Seoul National University, proved that the microRNA regulator directly controls the miR-8 gene, which affects the insulin signal delivery mechanism in laboratory insects. The micro-RNA controls "USH" target genes that also have an effect on insulin levels, the team said.

The discovery, published in the latest online issue of the U.S. journal "Cell," is noteworthy because it shows the link between microRNA and insulin for the first time.

The biological science professor said both the miR-8 and USH found in fruit flies have similar genes called miR-200 and FOG2 in humans, which influence the insulin level in humans.

Insulin control has a direct bearing on human health since irregular levels can bring about diabetes and cancer. Problems in insulin control have been associated with aging.

Kim said that by discovering the link between microRNAs and insulin control, the research raises possibilities of finding treatments for various diseases.


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