Fat discovery could lead to diabetes treatment

Drugs to promote glucose uptake by brown fat could help treat type 2 diabetes, according to Swedish research.

Diabetes: brown fat glucose uptake could lead to treatment
Diabetes: brown fat glucose uptake could lead to treatment

The study, in the Journal of Cell Biology, found a method to stimulate glucose uptake in brown fat, which if replicated pharmacologically, could help lower blood sugar levels among diabetes patients whose insulin signalling is impaired.

There are currently more than 380 million people in the world who have been diagnosed with type 2 diabetes, and the risk of developing the condition is put at 30%.

The researchers from Stockholm University found a new mechanism that stimulates glucose uptake in brown fat, which has a primary function of generating heat by burning fat and sugar.

Brown fat discovery

The team said that brown fat has been shown to be one of the tissues in the body that can be stimulated to the highest uptake of glucose per gram of tissue, meaning it could rapidly lower blood sugar levels.

Professor Tore Bengtsson, who headed the research at the Department of Molecular Biosciences in the Wenner-Gren Institute at Stockholm University, said: ‘One of the most interesting characteristics of this newly-discovered signal pathway is that it differs from the signal pathway triggered by insulin.

‘This means that the signal pathway in brown fat can most likely be activated even in patients with type 2 diabetes, where the insulin signalling is impaired.’

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