Diabetes: the revolutionary discovery of therapeutic fats

Thus, the prevalence of diabetes is on the rise, along with the prevalence of obesity, resulting in 1.5 million deaths worldwide each year, according to the World Health Organization (WHO). Type 1 diabetes is a chronic disease in which the insulin-producing cells of the pancreas become damaged and stop producing insulin. Thus, the disease develops when the body becomes resistant or insensitive to insulin.

These two forms of the disease result in high levels of glucose in the blood which, over time, can cause severe damage to the heart, blood vessels, eyes, kidneys, and nerves, unless properly controlled by a physician. Although there are many classes of drugs and many types of devices for self-monitoring of blood glucose today, many patients struggle to maintain this control, and the risk of complications remains high.

This key enzyme could be a game-changer for millions of diabetics

BIDMC endocrinologists have in fact identified a key enzyme in the synthesis of a new class of lipids, FAHFAs (Fatty acid (FA) esters of hydroxyfas), produced in human tissues and which has beneficial effects on insulin sensitivity, glycemic control, and other metabolic parameters in humans and mice.

Potential for a new treatment for diabetes Type 2 but also Type 1: The principle is to safely replace insulin-producing pancreatic beta cells in people with type 1 diabetes, while protecting these cells from immune system attacks, explains lead author, Dr. Barbara B. Vice President of Medical Research Department at BIDMC: We have shown that this FAHFA lipid protects beta cells from immune attack and metabolic stress. By increasing FAHFA levels, we can reduce the severity of type 1 and type 2 diabetes. Our findings shape

real scientific breakthrough,

Because it allows us to understand how these lipids are formed in mammalian tissues.”

Fats are called FAHFA: As early as 2014, the same team discovered this class of fat called FAHFA (or Hydroxy Fatty Acid Esters). The new study confirms that:

  • FAHFA levels correlate with insulin sensitivity.
  • Also in obese and diabetic mice, FAHFA improves glycemic control, reverses type 2 diabetes and reduces pro-inflammatory immune responses;
  • These fats also protect human insulin-producing cells and beta cells in the islets of the pancreas, from attacks by immune cells and cellular stress;
  • Finally, levels of these lipids are low in the serum and adipose tissue of people at risk of developing or suffering from type 2 diabetes.

ATGL . enzyme (triglyceride lipase), plays a major role in the synthesis of FAHFA lipids. Experiments in mice, human and mouse cells demonstrated that ATGL is the main biosynthesis enzyme for FAHFA in adipose tissue. More research is still needed to determine whether ATGL is also the major biosynthesis enzyme in other tissues and whether other enzymes are involved in the synthesis of these beneficial lipids.

Clearly, these new data open the way for new therapeutic strategies against diabetes, directly targeting the ATGL enzyme or FAHFAs. Since both obese and insulin-resistant humans have lower levels of ATGL in white adipose tissue than thin people or obese but insulin-sensitive people, scientists suspect that ATGL reduces FAHFA levels.

Finally, this finding could also contribute to a new preventive treatment: increasing FAHFA levels in people at high risk of developing type 1 diabetes in order to prevent the disease.

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