Targeting Fat in Treating Type 2 Diabetes
In the past, adipose tissue (i.e., fat), was thought of only as an inert storage depot with very few interesting characteristics. Now widely recognized as a vibrant metabolic tissue that secretes a wide range of substances that can influence how the body metabolizes glucose, it may prove to be a key to fighting Type 2 diabetes.
By studying adipose tissue, Canada Research Chair in Lipids, Metabolism and Health, Dr. David Wright and his laboratory hope to develop new approaches to preventing and treating Type 2 diabetes. Since changes in how the body metabolizes glucose are a hallmark of Type 2 diabetes, understanding how the function and metabolism of adipose tissue are regulated will be crucial for understanding diabetes itself.
Wright is examining how exercise and nutritional interventions affect how adipose tissue genes are expressed, and, in turn, how these changes can affect both adipose tissue’s metabolism, and the whole body’s glucose metabolism. To address these questions, Wright and his team are using a combination of physiological and cell/molecular biology techniques.
Currently, the most commonly prescribed class of drugs given to individuals with Type 2 diabetes is Thiazolidinediones, or TDZs. While effective in lowering blood glucose levels, the compounds have many undesirable side-effects.
The information from Wright’s studies will help researchers develop new, non-drug-based approaches that can be used to prevent and/or reverse Type 2 diabetes.