Tuesday, 14 August 2007

Complicated gene can aggravate diabetes

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I don't know about you, but I find it disconcerting to read about new scientific discoveries that mystify even the experts. Scientists go out. They do research. They come back and tell us what they find. Usually, they come back with some explanation for how the world works. But sometimes not.

Case in point? Researchers at Texas A&M University say they have identified a puzzler of a gene that resides in the liver and other spots in the body. They found it's possible to increase and decrease this gene in mice, but with odd results. Increasing it in obese patients who overeat whittles waistlines, and prevents heart disease and diabetes. However, doing so aggravates liver disease. Decreasing it in other obese patients cures fatty liver disease but aggravates - you guessed it! - diabetes, not to mention cholesterol and cardiovascular disease. "Take your choice," says Dr. Wallace McKeehan, a researcher at Texas A&M, "cure fatty liver disease and increase diabetes, or treat diabetes and aggravate fatty liver if you overeat and do not exercise." Curiouser and curiouser.

Dr. McKeehan goes on to say: "Perhaps someday we can find a combined magic bullet cocktail [drug] that will inhibit this liver gene and still cure fatty liver while stimulating this gene at other sites in the body to cure heart disease and diabetes." Just not yet. Till then, it's back to the treadmill.

The full story has been published in the journal Diabetes.

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