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Gene Therapy Reverses Obesity, Diabetes in Rodents

By jeremyc | July 12, 2018

In new research, the scientists were able to reverse markers for both obesity and type 2 diabetes in rodents. These are significant findings and give fresh hope to millions of people living with diabetes, not to say of many more who’re prediabetic or who’ve a greater risk of developing type 2 diabetes.

Diabetes is as much a public health concern as obesity. Both are on the rise and at present affect a big part of the population. What’s disturbing regarding diabetes is that its rates among young people and adolescents are on the rise.

Type 2 diabetes accounts for nearly 90-95 percent of all diabetes cases worldwide. At present, the condition can only be managed—and not reversed. However, this might change in future. In this research, the scientists used gene therapy in rodents and were able to reverse this disorder.

One mouse model of diabetes and obesity each was designed by the scientists. One mouse model was diet-induced while the other genetically modified.

The researchers administered FGF21 gene through gene therapy. This gene is responsible for production of FGF21 protein, which plays a key role in blood sugar absorption in adipose tissue.

The induction of FGF21 gene led to increased production of this protein, which in turn led to reduction in weight and insulin resistance. The latter is identified as a big risk factor for diabetes. This treatment also led to weight loss in mice, in addition to reduction in inflammation in adipose tissue.

The inflammation and fat content in the liver of the mice were reversed completely, as was liver fibrosis. All of these also increased sensitivity to insulin.

These findings are very encouraging indeed. Now the next step the researchers want to take is check gene therapy in bigger animals, and if everything goes well here, too, then test it on humans.



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