A special type of fat may be used to manage type 2 diabetes. Scientists from Monash University, in partnership with Stockholm University have discovered that brown fat found in some adults can help type 2 diabetes sufferers.
Commonly referred to as the good fat, brown fat helps to warm up the body when it’s cold, using up calories in the process. The Monash University study found brown fat has an added function, ‘hoovering up’ excess sugar in the body. This is promising news for people with type 2 diabetes whose bodies can’t respond to insulin properly on their own.
Observing cell behaviour, researchers found that when exposed to the cold, brown fat produces large amounts of protein that transports glucose into cells, in a different way to how insulin transports glucose into these cells. In fact, brown fat cells produce 10 times the amount of glucose transporters than insulin can. The research could lead to the new ways to treat type 2 diabetes and provide a welcome alternative to daily injections.
However, not all people have brown fat. Also, it’s unclear why some people have it and others don’t. Co-author of the study Dr Dana Hutchinson said diabetics are less likely to have brown fat.
“If we can uncover the mystery of why some people have brown fat, we can then look to develop ways to stimulate its growth,” she said.
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