Mice are helping scientists to understand insulin resistance, a precursor to type 2 diabetes. To recap, insulin resistance is a failure of the body to deal with blood glucose normally:
The problem starts during gluconeogenesis–a process by which blood sugar is produced in the liver, explains Marc Montminy, Ph.D., a professor in the Clayton Foundation Laboratories for Peptide Biology, who led the study. During fasting, gluconeogenesis maintains blood sugar levels by increasing glucose production. After a meal, the hormone insulin normally turns down gluconeogenesis ensuring that blood sugar levels don’t rise too high. “But in people with insulin resistance, blood sugar levels are elevated because gluconeogenesis continues when it shouldn’t, increasing the risk of developing type II diabetes,” Montminy says.
In order the understand the inner workings of the liver in the process. Scientists spliced the glowing fire-fly genes into mice in such a way that it could only be turned on in the liver by the [gluconeogenesis] switch. Well that’s cool.
Besides just being incredibly awesome, these glowing mice will be useful in research on the effectiveness of future diabetes drugs. The goal being to find a drug that can turn off the light. More.