Diabetes mellitus affects almost 1 in 25 of the populations of Western Europe and North America, and the treatment of its complications presently consumes as much as 15% of the healthcare budgets of many countries. Both forms of the disease (Type I and Type II) are on the increase, with an incidence predicted to double by the year 2020. Against this backdrop, research into the biochemical mechanisms by which pancreatic islet -cells synthesize and secrete insulin has gathered significant momentum in recent years.

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