Amylin Corp. said Thursday it has developed transgenic ratscontaining what it believes is the culprit gene for Type 2diabetes, the most common form of the disease.

The rats, developed in collaboration with scientists at theInstitute of Molecular and Cell Biology at the NationalUniversity of Singapore, contain the gene for amylin andproduce human amylin peptide in their pancreases.

"We'll have conclusive proof in the next six months of ourhypothesis that amylin is the culprit gene," said JacquelineJohnson, director of product development at Amylin.

The company hypothesizes that Type 2 late-onset diabetes iscaused by overexpression of amylin, which leads to obesity andformation of amyloid -- an insoluble protein fiber masscomposed of amylin -- in the pancreas. The result, saidJohnson, is insulin-resistant diabetes in which the bodyproduces insulin but is resistant to its effects.

Insulin, a pancreatic hormone, signals the body to take upexcess sugar from the blood and store it in muscle. In Type 2diabetes, the body fails to respond to these signals and bloodsugar remains high. The cause remains unknown.

Privately held Amylin of San Diego will use the rats to testcandidate amylin antagonists, which bind to amylin receptors.

There are two commonly used rat models for diabetes -- FattyZucker and LA/N-Cp, Johnson said, but their discovery wasserendipitous, and it's not known what causes these rats todevelop diabetes.

-- Karen Bernstein BioWorld Staff

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