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Fat cells to find new type 2 clues

Project summary

Researching fat cells provides a chance to better understand the link between insulin resistance and type 2 diabetes. A substance in the blood called ADMA changes how fat cells work. Dr Salt is going to compare ADMA in fat cells of humans and mice to understand why this happens. This could open the door to new ways of preventing or treating type 2 diabetes. 

Background to research

We have many different types of cells in our bodies including fat cells that work to store our energy as fat. In type 2 diabetes, fat cells tend to be bigger than normal.  These cells then don’t respond to insulin as well as they should do to keep blood sugar levels normal.  

Researchers have found evidence that a substance found in the blood and fatty tissue, known as asymmetric dimethylarginine (ADMA), changes fat cells and is found at higher levels in people with type 2 diabetes. They don’t know how ADMA changes how fat cells behave but think it may be important in the development of type 2 diabetes.  

Research aims

Dr Salt aims to work out how ADMA may be linked to type 2 diabetes by answering three questions: 

  1. How does ADMA affect fat cells? 
  2. Do ADMA levels affect insulin in fat cells? 
  3. How does insulin affect ADMA in fat cells? 

Dr Salt’s going to look into these questions by using fat cells from two groups of people, those living with type 2 diabetes and those without. He’s then going to compare two proteins which ADMA activates in the two different groups to see if they hold the clues as to how ADMA works and its role in the development of type 2 diabetes. 

Dr Salt’s also going to look at mice that produce more ADMA in their fat cells and compare these to mice that have normal ADMA levels. This will help him to map the impact of ADMA on fat cells. 

Potential benefit to people with diabetes

Knowing how ADMA works and how it damages fat cells could give us new insights into how type 2 diabetes develops. It could also help researchers to work out if new drugs that target ADMA could be developed to treat or prevent type 2 diabetes.  

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