Fat cells can prevent diabetes

Scientists have identified a gene in body's fat cells, which they claim could protect one against diabetes, a finding that independent experts say may pave the way for effective treatments for the ailment.

In fact, a team, led by Harvard Medical School in the US, has found that contrary to popular perception, body fat can actually be of benefit, boosting body's ability to regulate blood sugar.

In their research, the scientists found that the gene - called ChREBP - resists type 2 diabetes by converting glucose sugar into fatty acids and boosting sensitivity to insulin, which regulates the blood sugar, the 'Daily Express' reported. Type 2 diabetes normally develops during middle age from obesity or an unhealthy lifestyle . "The general concept that all fat is bad is not true.

"Obesity is commonly associated with metabolic dysfunction that puts people at higher risk for diabetes, stroke and heart disease, but there is a large percentage of obese people who are metabolically healthy," said team leader Dr Mark Herman.

For most obese people, levels of sugar rise too much because it is prevented from entering fat cells. But, the scientists found in their trial on laboratory mice that if they increased levels of a "glucose transporter" gene in obese rodents , it allowed more sugar into their fat cells and protected against diabetes.

Sugar in fat cells triggered a response from the gene that regulated insulin sensitivity throughout the body, revealed the findings published in the 'Nature' journal.

The scientists found that - conversely - normal weight mice missing the transporter gene developed diabetic symptoms.

Experts have hailed the findings . Professor Ulf Smith at the University of Gothenburg in Sweden , who is president of the European Association for the Study of Diabetes, said: "It's a really exciting finding. We've been looking for the mechanism to try to understand why glucose metabolism in adipose tissue is so important for whole-body sensitivity to insulin."

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