POSTED: Thursday, July 8, 2010 - 6:03pm
UPDATED: Thursday, July 8, 2010 - 10:58pm
Researchers at Pennington Biomedical Center in Baton Rouge have found a virus, Human Adenovirus number 36 (AD-36), that does, just that.
Dr. Dhurandhar found that the virus turns stem cells into fat cells, so no matter how much they eat or how hard they exercise, they will still store more fat than someone who is not infected. Dr. Dhurandhar says, "we theorize that if there are two people and one is infected with the virus and the other is not and even if they are doing exactly the same thing in behavior otherwise, the person who is infected with the virus is likely to have more fat."
But there is good news. Proteins the virus makes may actually improve glucose levels in patients with diabetes.
"The exciting part about this is that we were able to see this effect even when the animals continue with their high fat diet and they didn't even have to lose their fat to get that improvement in glucose," says Dr. Dhurandhar.
Even more impressive, the virus is able to continue metabolizing those sugars without insulin.
"So people and including kids have to inject themselves daily with a dose of insulin so they can metabolize glucose," says Dr. Dhurandhar, "but if the this virus is able to metabolize glucose without the help of insulin that would be a great help."
Researchers are working now to turn AD-36 into a drug to treat type 1 and type 2 diabetis, without the painful prick of insulin. The trick is finding out how to harness the positive effect on glucose without the negative effect of more fat. Dr. Dhurandhar hopes to have the drug in clinical trials in the next five years.