Scientists have discovered how one sugar – fructose – is transported into our cells. This finding could lead to new treatments to tackle cancer, obesity and diabetes.
A study at Stockholm University, deploying x-ray crystallography, has found out how our body processes fructose. Here it has been found that a specific protein called GLUT5, functioning at the atomic level, transports fructose through the cell membrane.
The protein acts as a type of ‘gate keeper’, allowing fructose in while blocking the passage of other molecules. Researchers are keen to know why fructose is allowed in via this route. Knowing this could help scientists deal with diseases that are associated with excessive sugar consumption, such as diabetes and obesity, as well as some types of cancer.
With cancer, for example, some cancer cells, such as those found in breast cancer, have a much greater metabolic requirement for sugar. Now researchers understand the structure of the transport protein, it could be possible to design a drug molecule to jams this mechanism and thus starve the cancer cells of sugar.
Breast cancer is cancer that develops from breast tissue. The first symptom of breast cancer is a lump, of a type that feels different from the rest of the breast tissue. The lump can be assessed through a mammogram.
The findings are reported to the journal Nature. The research paper is titled: “Structure and mechanism of the mammalian fructose transporter GLUT5.”
By Tim Sandle -Oct 19, 20150