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Discovery points to new approach for diabetes therapy
Date:7/12/2010

CORVALLIS, Ore. Nutrition experts at Oregon State University have essentially "cured" laboratory mice of mild, diet-induced diabetes by stimulating the production of a particular enzyme.

The findings could offer a new approach to diabetes therapy, experts say, especially if a drug could be identified that would do the same thing, which in this case was accomplished with genetic manipulation.

Increased levels of this enzyme, called fatty acid elongase-5, restored normal function to diseased livers in mice, restored normal levels of blood glucose and insulin, and effectively corrected the risk factors incurred with diet-induced diabetes.

"This effect was fairly remarkable and not anticipated," said Donald Jump, a professor of nutrition and exercise sciences at Oregon State, where he is an expert on lipid metabolism and principal investigator with OSU's Linus Pauling Institute.

"It doesn't provide a therapy yet, but could be fairly important if we can find a drug to raise levels of this enzyme," Jump said. "There are already some drugs on the market that do this to a point, and further research in the field would be merited."

The studies were done on a family of enzymes called "fatty acid elongases," which have been known of for decades. Humans get essential fatty acids that they cannot naturally make from certain foods in their diet. These essential fatty acids are converted to longer and more unsaturated fatty acids. The fatty acid end products of these reactions are important for managing metabolism, inflammation, cognitive function, cardiovascular health, reproduction, vision and other metabolic roles.

The enzymes that do this are called fatty acid elongases, and much has been learned in recent years about them. In research on diet-induced obesity and diabetes, OSU studied enzyme conversion pathways, and found that elongase-5 was often impaired in mice with elevated insulin levels and diet-induced obesity
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Contact: Donald Jump
donald.jump@oregonstate.edu
541-737-4007
Oregon State University
Source:Eurekalert

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