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Unhooking the Obesity-Diabetes Connection
Date:7/26/2009

Understanding the link may someday lead to a cure, studies suggest

SUNDAY, July 26 (HealthDay News) -- Scientists may be closer to solving a medical mystery with huge implications for personal and public health: Why obese people are prone to developing type 2 diabetes.

A series of studies appearing online July 26 in Nature Medicine suggest that inflammation within the fat tissues of heavy individuals could trigger the blood sugar disease.

What's more, each of the four completely independent studies, from two continents and three countries, showed that interfering with these immune-cell processes actually reversed diabetes in mice.

The long-term implications of the findings are enticing: perhaps one day a cure for type 2 diabetes, a condition that now plagues more than 23 million people in the United States alone.

"This group of papers suggests that cellular immunity may regulate inflammation in fat," said Dr. Vivian Fonseca, professor of medicine at Texas A&M Health Science Center College of Medicine and director of the Diabetes Institute at Scott & White. "The authors do suggest that if you change the inflammatory response by changing the way the body cells respond to a trigger for inflammation, you might be able to get at the real heart of diabetes and that suggests you could cure it."

But Fonseca warned, all these studies were conducted in mice and have yet to be proven in humans

In type 2 diabetes, the body often becomes resistant to insulin and doesn't use it effectively. In the last decade or so, researchers have presented evidence that suppressing inflammation in animals could improve insulin resistance and other processes involved with diabetes. Inflammation is now widely believed to be involved in many metabolic diseases afflicting obese individuals. Inflammation in fat tissue, in particular, seems to be a culprit, by changing fat tissue function, thereby con
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