Sugar is linked to a number of deadly diseases, including heart disease, cancer and diabetes.
In a major breakthrough, scientists have identified the structure and mechanism of the fructose transporter GLUT5, which helps regulate how sugar is processed in the body.
Scientists from Stockholm University, the UK and Japan figured out how the protein GLUT5 is involved in transporting fructose, one of the most common sugars in our diet, into our cells, a finding that could open the door to new treatments for certain cancers, obesity and diabetes.
"Many cancer cells, such as those found in breast cancer, have a higher metabolic requirement for sugar and the bottleneck for using sugar is the transport into the cell," David Drew, a researcher at the Department of Biochemistry and Biophysics at Stockholm University, said. "Now that we know the structure of the transport protein, it might be possible to design a molecule that specifically jams it and thereby starving the cancer cells."
Using X-ray crystallography, the researchers created three-dimensional models of the GLUT5 protein. What they found was that the protein functioned as a "gate keeper" allowing fructose molecules in while rejecting others.