Health News: A Metabolic Factor That May Help Diabetes Treatment

Humans are designed to hunger for fat—packing it on in times of feast and burning it during periods of famine. Fortunately for humans in developed countries (but not for their health), famine rarely strikes, hence the burgeoning epidemic of diabetes, heart disease, and other weight-related problems.

Salk Institute scientists have identified a protein known as fibroblast growth factor 1 (FGF1) that may open new opportunities in diabetes treatment. FGF1 activity is triggered by a high-fat diet and researchers noticed that mice lacking the protein swiftly develop diabetes. This suggests that FGF1 is important in maintaining sensitivity to insulin and normal levels of blood sugar. In addition, mice that lacked FGF1 were unable to store and use fat normally.