Fruit Flies, Diabetes, and the Slimming Gene – And Hope in the Treatment of Obesity?

For several years, medical scientists at the Life & Medical Sciences Center of the University of Bonn, Germany, have carried out research into the genes of fruit flies.

The common fruit fly is one of the most frequently used organisms in biological research. It is exceptionally well suited to such studies because of their genetic similarity in so many ways to that of human beings and other mammals. genee

They are easy to take care of, they mature and breed quickly, they lay many eggs, and have a life span of about 10 days, allowing several generations to be studied in just a few weeks time. A majority of the genes involved in diseases in humans have a similar matching genetic code sequence in fruit flies.

United States also pursues research with fruit flies
Currently also working with fruit flies, as well as the research taking place in Germany, scientists at the University of Maryland in the U.S. are involved in genetic research and on Novemer 2nd of this year, 2009, results of their research was published in “The Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences”, describing how they altered fruit fly genes to model the failure of insulin production similar to that occurring in Type 1 diabetes. But that research should be covered separately while here I prefer to concentrate on the Bonn conclusions that could in the future affect the lives of obese type 2 diabetics, who may continue to produce insulin, compared to the type 1 diabetic whose insulin production by the pancreas fails entirely.

University of Bonn research announcement
The newest announcement of research at the University of Bonn, on October 15, 2009, through the prestigious molecular biology online journal, EMBO, describes the discovery of yet another fruit fly gene that, if defective, leads to the inability of the fruit fly to metabolize, that is to build, the necessary fat to maintain its health and survival.

The gene is named Schlank by the research team, a German word meaning “slim”, now rather obviously being called the slimming gene

The importance of this discovery cannot be overestimated, to have discovered a gene that controls fat metabolism, a gene that when defective prevents the build up of body fat has immense potential consequences in the field of pharmaceuticals that can have an affect on millions of obese people in the world.

Based on the findings. it immediately conjures up visions of the development of a medication that performs in a more limited way, the same thing as the defective fruit fly gene. Long a goal of pharmaceutical companies and those dedicated to the treatment of diabetes.

Human beings and other mammals also carry a gene similar to the Schlank gene, called the Lass gene, a gene that was not known to be involved in the control of fat production. Although it is known that a defective Lass gene is the cause of severe metabolic problems in mammals. Different creatures have different numbers and varieties of the Lass gene, humans have six versions of the gene.

Now with the results of the Bonn team available, Professor Hoch, a member of that team, is of the opinion that the recent discoveries provide a promising avenue of approach in the search for medications to treat obesity, a major factor in a growing world-wide epidemic of type 2 diabetes.

A recent Gallup survey this year, 2009, offered the conclusion that Americans who are obese are almost three times as likely to be diagnosed as having diabetes as the non-obese population. There are 26 million Americans who already have diabetes and Gallup notes that if the current trend continues the number will rise to over 37 million by the end of 2015, a lot more than 10% of the population. And that is for the United States only, the story is similar in the U.K., Australia, Europe, and India,with a population of over one billion people, has the highest number of diabetics of any one country in the world, according to Diabetes UK. India has described itself as the diabetes capital of the world with over 40 million cases. stylowakobieta

Obesity, excess body fat that is, has been proven to contribute to diabetes by diminishing the ability of organs of the body to appropriately react to insulin produced by the pancreas, with the end result that blood glucose, derived from the digestion of the foods we eat, stays in the bloodstream, and that is diabetes, pure and simple. The discovery of the newly identified gene responsible for the influence of fat in diabetes was also made by the research team from the University of Bonn, announced just last July.


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