I also made it clear that I am not that good at either diet or exercise, and therefore this news for many Australians including myself is one of high priority. Key people in Diabetes Australia have been on the news casts with similar enthusiasm.
Drawn to your attention was that researchers have now visualised the interaction between the hormone insulin and the cell surfaces within our bodies, showing how this enables glucose to move out of the blood and into the cells, so that it can start reacting to produce the energy for living. (www.sciencedaily.com)
We now continue the story:
Determination of the structure of insulin took 34 years
Dorothy Crowfoot Hodgkin is a central name to remember with the story of insulin. To be fair, Dorothy Crowfoot Hodgkin obviously did not spend her whole time on the structure of insulin for all the 34 years starting from her first experiments in 1935. But without her the insulin story may have been very different. (www.britannica.com)
In the intervening years, she became one of the world's experts in X-ray crystallography techniques, and collaborated with a whole host of other 'great names' to help determine the 3-dimensional molecular structure of vitamin B12, haemoglobin, myoglobin (in muscle), penicillin and other complex biological structures.
She was awarded the Nobel Prize for Chemistry in 1964.
By 1969, the techniques of X-ray diffraction and high-speed computing had become sufficiently advanced so that she could return to her first passion, insulin. Working with an international team of younger researchers, she finally achieved her dream of determining the structure of insulin, but she never imagined that this discovery would lead to practical applications.
Since then, other methods of determining the structure of proteins have been developed.
Nuclear Magnetic Resonance (nmr) (which is similar to mri medical scans) combined with computer-aided visualisations, complemented by theoretical mathematical modelling and intricate calculations of the forces between extremely tiny atoms within the molecules have been used to help scientists elucidate biological reactions and the effectiveness of some medicines.
The knowledge of its structure, and the concomitant developments in genetics research, have enabled more effective forms of insulin to now be produced by genetically engineered micro organisms.
Diabetics no longer have to rely on extractions from the organs of animals. (www.nobelprizes.com/nobel/chemistry/dch.html) and (an easier-to-read biography)
Two types of diabetes
But there is another type of diabetes, one which is much more common. When the proteins on the cell surface do not interact with the insulin correctly, and do not therefore allow enough glucose into the cells, too much of it remains in the bloodstream.
The cells are said to be 'resistant' to insulin, and this is 'type 2' or 'adult-onset' or 'non insulin-dependent' diabetes.
This can be caused by any one of, or a combination of, events including: a genetic susceptibility; high blood pressure; obesity; effects of a poor diet and/or lack of exercise.
It usually occurs in later years, although more and more young people are being diagnosed. In the early stages, there are different types of tablets that can be prescribed. Changing the diet and increasing the exercise can slow the disease progression or even prevent it; but in later stages, insulin is often also needed. (www.diabetesaustralia.com.au)
This new research
The new research published in January, which has determined the details of the interaction between insulin and the receptors on the cell surface, may also help throw light on the mechanism of insulin resistance, and this could lead to better medications for type 2 diabetes.
In the meantime, until the next major advance is announced, I am advised that exercise is equally important as diet in helping the muscles, bones and even fat cells to produce more of the 'right' hormones to keep the energy balance in our bodies at a healthy level.
For me, this means many more 'running up the steps' exercises and a change in direction with the Scriptures, walking and listening to the Bible on my iPhone App rather than sitting and reading. The Bible App., is what I use extensively when at the Laguna Quays Respite and when travelling on mission.
Dr Mark Tronson is a Baptist minister (retired) who served as the Australian cricket team chaplain for 17 years (2000 ret) and established Life After Cricket in 2001. He was recognised by the Olympic Ministry Medal in 2009 presented by Carl Lewis Olympian of the Century. He has written 24 books, and enjoys writing. He is married to Delma, with four adult children and grand-children.
Mark Tronson's archive of articles can be viewed at www.pressserviceinternational.org/mark-tronson.html