Scientists at Rutgers' Robert Wood Johnson Medical School have found that removing excess fat cells from certain organs may be an effective way to fight type 2 diabetes.
Type 2 diabetes occurs when cells in the body lose their ability to use insulin, which causes high levels of blood sugar. Previous research has shown that excess fat in the liver and muscles can cause the body to stop being able to use insulin.
The researchers aimed to find a safe and practical way to reduce levels of abnormal fat in the liver. They decided to modify an existing medication called niclosamide ethanolamine salt (NEN), and then tested it on mice.
The researchers found that NEN induced a process called "mitochondrial uncoupling," in which levels of excess fat were reduced in order to restore the process of burning sugar for energy. The two main sources of energy in the body are fat and sugar and excess fat can interfere with the burning of sugar.
The study, published in Nature Medicine, suggests that using a drug like NEN could help restore patients' ability to properly use insulin and eventually reverse type 2 diabetes, researchers said. They acknowledged that further research in humans is needed.