Obesity and Type 2 Diabetes

Written by Bonnie Sanders Polin PhD

JDRF Research on Closed-loop Systems
Before, we've talked about 2 artificial pancreas programs funded in part by the JDRF, and now the JDRF has announced a related funding. For those of us with type 1 diabetes, these headlines bring even more hope that we will see closed-looped systems in a matter of years.

The JDRF announced that it has joined BD (Becton, Dickinson, and Co.) to develop a new and better insulin delivery system for insulin pumps. This international corporation manufactures and sells medical supplies, devices, laboratory instruments, and more. The JDRF has signed on for $4.3 million over the next few years to help make delivery of insulin using the pump better with fewer occlusions, pain, and faster delivery of insulin.

This research may help with the development of the artificial pancreas that the JDRF is backing at Animas (a subsidiary of Johnson and Johnson) and at Medtronic.

The JDRF continues to support research on how to develop pumps that use instant-acting insulin (still under development) to control blood glucose levels but can also deliver other hormones to stop hypoglycemic events before they become dangerous. We will continue to follow this and report as new developments are released.

You can read the JDRF press release about this partnership here.

Studying Immune Cells to Find a Cure for Diabetes
The JDRF has also announced findings about the discovery of a cell process that stops autoimmune attacks.

As we all know, type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune illness where beta cells are treated as invaders and destroyed. Brian Fife of the University of Minnesota began his research at the University of California in San Francisco when he was a post-doctoral fellow. He found a cell protein that played a key role in ensuring tolerance to beta cells. He and his group then set out to find how it worked.

In their work with mice, the researchers injected the animals with immune cells that cause diabetes. Then they injected some of these mice with an "antigen specific" treatment that was to target specific immune cells, not the entire immune system. They found that the mice were either missing or had a low level of a specific cell signal after the treatment, which made them tolerant to beta cells. The mice that did not receive this treatment continued to have diabetes.

What they found was that the protein they studied provided protection as it interacted with a different immune cell and the immune cells remained safe. To go one step further, they stopped that conversation between the cells, and diabetes returned. You can read more about this study here.

What does this mean for people with diabetes?
Antigen-based therapy has become a very important and promising area for research to stop the development of diabetes.

Obesity and Type 2 Diabetes
One last headline titled "The role of adiposity and lifestyle in the relationship between family history of diabetes and 20-year incidence of type 2 diabetes in U.S. women" by Ester van't Riet et al was published in the January issue of Diabetes Care.

The researchers examined the data from 73,227 women in the Nurses' Health Study cohort. Weight, height, and living styles, as well a history of first degree relatives with diabetes, were all examined.

Over the 20-year follow-up, 5,201 cases of type 2 diabetes were reported. The key finding was that excess fat was the most important factor in the association between family history and the diagnosis of diabetes. Eating styles were also important but to a lesser extent.

Read the abstract for this study here.

Once again, we suggest understanding overeating, what you eat, and portion control to lower weight along with exercise.