Eliminating old, dysfunctional cells in fat can help treat diabetes.

Researchers at UConn Health have reported that eliminating old, dysfunctional fat cells can also help reduce the signs of diabetes. The research could result in new treatments for Type 2 diabetes and other metabolic diseases.

The cells within your body are constantly renewing their own cells, with older ones ageing and dying while new ones are born. Sometimes however, this process can turn sour. Sometimes, damaged cells linger. They are called senescent cells. They may have a negative impact on nearby cells. Their bad influence affects how the neighboring cells manage proteins or sugars, and, consequently, causes metabolic issues.

Type 2 diabetes is the most common metabolic disorder in the US. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, about 34 million Americans suffer from type 2 diabetes. This is one of 10 people. Insulin resistance is a typical condition in diabetes. It is often connected to weight gain, poor nutrition, and lack of exercise. According to Ming Xu of UConn Health School of Medicine and his colleagues, it has to do with the senescent cells in the body fat.

They report that clearing out senescent cells appears to stop the development of the development of diabetes in obese mice. Ming Xu, assistant professor in the UConn Center on Aging and the department of Genetics and Genome Sciences at UConn Health, led the research, with UConn Health researchers Lichao Wang and Binsheng Wang as the main contributors.

Researchers said that reducing the negative effects of fat on metabolism was a stunning result. A treatment that works this well in humans would be a revolutionary treatment for diabetes.

Xu and his colleagues conducted a study to determine the effectiveness of a combination drug, quercetin and dasatinib. Dasatinib and quercetin had already been proven to extend the duration of life and improve health in old mice. These drugs were found to kill senescent cells in cultures of human fat tissue. The tissue was donated by individuals with obesity who were found to have metabolic troubles. Human fat tissues caused metabolic problems in immune-deficient mice without treatment. After treatment with quercetin and dasatinib the negative effects of the fat tissue were almost eliminated.

These drugs can help make fat healthy and prevent obesity. These results were impressive and set the stage for clinical trials.

Ming Xu, assistant professor, UConn Center on Aging

Xu and his colleagues from UConn Health, Mayo Clinic and UConn Health are now pursuing clinical trials with the combination of dasatinib and quercetin to determine whether it can improve Type 2 Diabetes in humans. “These preclinical results were extremely promising but large-scale clinical trials are crucial to establish the safety and efficacy of these drugs in humans before clinical usage,” Xu stated.

The team is also focusing on the previously unexplored senescent cells population. They express high levels of p21, a inhibitor of cyclin-dependent Kinase and one of the key markers of the cellular senescence. By using a newly developed mouse model, Xu’s group showed that the removal of these senescent cells once every month is effective in slowing down the development of diabetes and easing the development of symptoms of diabetes in obese mice. Xu says that previous research focused on various cell markers, but that the effects of clearing away cells highly expressing p21 was so marked on alleviating diabetes that this marker must get more attention.

The National Institutes on Aging, Regenerative Medicine Initiative for Diabetes-Career Development Award at Mayo Clinic, Esperance Fellowship for Personalized Nutrition and American Federation for Aging Research provided the majority of the research.

Journal reference:

Wang, L., and. (2021) Targeting p21 Cip1 highly expressed cells in the adipose tissue eases insulin resistance in obesity. Cell Metabolism.

Content Source:

Gemma Wilson

Gemma is a journalism graduate with keen interest in covering business news – specifically startups. She has as a keen eye for technologies and has predicted quite a few successful startups over the last couple of years.

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