Jul 7, 2009 | 2
A large portion of the human genome (approximately 98 percent) does not encode genes. Long thought to be "junk DNA," these portions, researchers continue to learn, can play a role in genetic activity and, subsequently, in health and sickness. According to researchers at the German Institute of Human Nutrition, one such junk fragment might actually prevent symptoms of type 2 diabetes in obese mammals.
Type 2 diabetes is the most common form of diabetes, accounting for about 90 to 95 percent of all cases in the U.S., according to the National Institute of Health, and primarily affects overweight people. These recent findings, published in PLoS Genetics, identify a likely contributor to obesity-linked type 2 diabetes. In particular, the researchers found that obese mice lacking a particular fragment of noncoding DNA called a retrotransposon had type 2 diabetes-like symptoms.
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