Jul 9, 2010 9:35 AM by Bea Karnes, News First 5
Researchers are studying a virus that may be responsible for turning cells into fat.
Scientists at Pennington Biomedical Research Center in Baton Rouge, Louisiana hope the metabolic properties of the virus might be used to treat type one and type two diabetes without insulin.
"People tend to think tend to blame every obesity on just eating too much or having less exercise," said Dr. Nikhil Dhurandhar. "This virus is able to infect stem cells in our body or in our fat tissue...so we theorize that if there are two people and one is infected with the virus and the other is not, and even if they are doing exactly the same thing in behavior otherwise, the person who is infected with the virus is likely to have more fat."
The researchers have found that proteins the virus makes may actually improve glucose levels in patients with diabetes. In animal tests, glucose levels improved, even though the animals didn't lose weight.
The next step for researchers is to develop a pill that will enable diabetics to metabolize glucose without insulin shots.