New strategy to lower blood sugar may help in diabetes treatment​

Working in mice, researchers at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis led by Brian N. Finck, PhD (left), and Kyle S. McCommis, PhD, showed they could reduce glucose production in the liver and lower blood sugar levels. Their approach — shutting down a liver protein involved in making glucose — may help treat type 2 diabetes.

Fatty liver disease prevented in mice

Studying mice, researchers have found a way to prevent nonalcoholic fatty liver disease, the most common cause of chronic liver disease worldwide. Blocking a path that delivers dietary fructose to the liver prevented mice from developing the condition, according to investigators at the School of Medicine.

Investigational diabetes drug may have fewer side effects

Drugs for type 2 diabetes can contribute to unwanted side effects, but Washington University researchers have found that in mice, an investigational drug appears to improve insulin sensitivity without side effects. The medicine works through a different pathway, which could provide additional targets for treating insulin resistance and diabetes.

Ginseng doesn’t help patients with early diabetes

Despite promising findings in the laboratory, Dominic N. Reeds, MD, and other nutrition researchers at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis have found that ginseng does not improve insulin sensitivity in diabetics who are overweight.

HIV drugs interfere with blood sugar, lead to insulin resistance

The same powerful drugs that have extended the lives of countless people with HIV come with a price — insulin resistance that can lead to diabetes and cardiovascular disease. Now, Paul Hruz, MD, PhD, and his team at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis have determined why that happens.

Fat in the liver — not the belly — is a better marker for disease risk

New findings from nutrition researchers at the School of Medicine suggest that it’s not whether body fat is stored in the belly that affects metabolic risk factors for diabetes, high blood triglycerides and cardiovascular disease, but whether it collects in the liver. They report online in the journal PNAS Early Edition that when fat collects in the liver, people experience serious metabolic problems such as insulin resistance, which affects the body’s ability to metabolize sugar.

Early-stage diabetic heart disease mimicked in mouse hearts

The brighter signal over the transgenic heart indicates fat uptake and metabolism are greatly increased.Heart disease is the leading cause of death among the more than 13 million diabetics in the United States. Researchers at the School of Medicine have found that in mice whose heart muscles take up high amounts of fat, the heart fills abnormally after each contraction, a condition that is consistent with the first stage of heart dysfunction in human diabetics.

Early-stage diabetic heart disease mimicked in mouse hearts

The brighter signal over the transgenic heart indicates fat uptake and metabolism are greatly increased.Heart disease is the leading cause of death among the more than 13 million diabetics in the United States. Researchers at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis have found that in mice whose heart muscles take up high amounts of fat, the heart fills abnormally after each contraction, a condition that is consistent with the first stage of heart dysfunction in human diabetics.

Gene may increase risk for type 2 diabetes

Two international research teams — one led by M. Alan Permutt, M.D., professor of medicine and of cell biology and physiology at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis — have found variations in a gene that may predispose people to type 2 diabetes, the most common form of the disease. The two research teams, which collaborated extensively, will report their findings in companion articles in the April issue of Diabetes.

‘Couch baboons’

Wild African baboons at rest.Investigators from several groups, including Washington University in St. Louis, have found that when it comes to risk of obesity, the food you eat may be less important than the exercise you get. The researchers studied the eating and exercise patterns of two groups of wild baboons in East Africa. Like most primates, one group has to wander and forage for food. The other group lives near a tourist lodge in Kenya; they get lots of their food from the garbage dump. Typically, baboons spend the majority of their day walking from place to place finding food. But the so-called “couch baboons” spent most of their day waiting for food to arrive at the dump and then eating that food. Some of those baboons also became obese and resistant to insulin, just like humans who eat too much and exercise too little.