The University of Southern Denmark’s news story, published in SciTech Daily, discusses the research performed by Jan-Wilhelm Kornfelds’ team from the same university. The study, published in the reputable journal Nature Communications, investigated the function of long noncoding RNA (lncRNA), LincIRS2. The researchers used mice as a model organism to demonstrate that diet-induced obesity increases MAFG signaling, which serves to repress lncRNA expression. A link was also identified between LincIRS2 loss and increased levels of blood glucose, as well as increased insulin resistance. These results suggest the coordination of MAFG and LincIRS2 in controlling glucose metabolism. The study contributed both a new potential mechanism for lncRNA regulation, as well as a new purpose for these RNA molecules, whose functions have mostly been unknown.
The news story accurately states the research results and claims. It does not cherry pick results to paint a false narrative, nor does it include any personal opinions. The original research paper is clearly referenced at the end of the news article, and it is linked directly after the reference. The research article is also publicly available to readers, allowing them to further investigate the topic. On the other hand, no author information is provided at all, so readers cannot reach out to follow-up with the article.
However, the news story suffers from a few shortcomings. For example, the title can be considered misleading, and it takes a significant leap in reasoning from the results of the study. Long noncoding RNAs were found to be associated with glucose metabolism, but the team did not conclude that these RNAs are responsible for controlling diabetes, as the title suggests. The team merely suggested that these findings may aid in treatment of diabetes or other metabolic disorders. Further, the news story understates some results of the study, completely disregarding the role of MAFG in regulating the long noncoding RNAs in the first place as a result of diet-induced obesity.
In terms of sources, none are used from outside the research article, raising potential concerns about the credibility of the story. Additionally, some jargon, such as “genome”, “mouse models” and “RNAs” is left unexplained, making the reporting less accessible to readers who do not have a scientific background. Otherwise, the language used is not emotionally charged, and it does not fear-monger or sensationalize.
The article “Previously Thought to Serve No Purpose “Phantom Genes” Keep Diabetes at Bay” written by the University of Southern Denmark and published in SciTech Daily on January 31st, 2020 covers a research paper that was written by Marta Pradas-Juni et al. and published in Nature Communications. The research studied MAFG signaling in mice caused by obesity could result in repression of lncRNA. LincIRS2 was a segment of non-coding RNA that the researchers were interested in and they were able to find that the repression of LincIRS2 impacts insulin resistance and blood glucose levels. While the use of lncRNA were previously unknown, this research shows that they can have an impact and even play a large role in regulating physiological processes. The researchers saw that LincIRS2 and MAFG played a sizable role in controlling glucose metabolism in the liver.
The article posted in SciTech Daily does state the information in the paper, while simplifying the results enough for casual audiences, and providing a reasonable amount of information about the scientific process. The article maintained a neutral tone and included sources from within the paper. The link to the research is easily accessible is open access.
The author’s name is not mentioned in the paper, and is credited to the University of Southern Denmark, which is also partially funded the research, and many of the researchers conduct their research, which could be problematic and a conflict of interest. The title is also problematic as it seems to use sensationalist language and even insinuates that the results directly help to solve diabetes, but the article then mentions that this is a goal of a future study. The paper also skips over the importance of MAFG that is heavily emphasized in the paper.
The language is no sensationalist in the paper outside the title and overall maintains a neutral tone throughout; however, it significantly simplifies the content.
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