Canadian Study Shows Promise in Fighting Obesity, Type 2 Diabetes
Recent research has led to a promising outcome with regards to a major risk factor for type 2 diabetes. A new animal study done by the University of Alberta shows that a special type of DNA transfer may be effective in treating obesity.
The study used mice that were fed a high-fat, high-sugar diet and injected them with genetic material. Author of the study, Jason Dyck, a Professor of Pediatrics and Pharmacology at the university, describes the treatment that allows the DNA to be assimilated into the muscles in his report. He says, “What we’re injecting is DNA directly into the muscle cell, which is thought to be highly inefficient, but we give a short electric impulse that causes the muscle cells, the pores, to open up in the muscle cells, to take up the DNA so we’re getting a very efficient gene transfer.”
The genes then help the cells produce a protein called adiponectin, which is known to protect against obesity and other weight-related illnesses such as type 2 diabetes and heart disease. Those who are overweight stop secreting this protein naturally, possibly due to increased inflammation.
New Areas of Gene Therapy
In the study, mice given the DNA treatment successfully began to create the hormone-like protein. During the 13-week trial, the mice were given a total of two rounds of gene therapy. They also gained less weight, were more active and burned more calories.
Dyck presented his findings to the Canadian Obesity Network in order to continue the research. He hopes that his research will propel gene therapy into more diverse treatment areas. He says:
“Typically, gene therapy has been saved for the more severe diseases because there is inherent risk associated with genetically altering cells within your body. Type 2 diabetes or obesity especially hasn’t been considered a severe enough disease in many ways…It’s time we start looking at all alternate strategies to help treat this disease. As people are on the path towards obesity, that might be the time to intervene.”