Diabetes in the Elderly Linked to Fewer Cellular ‘Power Plants’

Elderly people may develop insulin resistance — one of the major risk factors for diabetes — because “power plants” in their muscle cells decline or fail with age, according to Howard Hughes Medical Institute researchers at Yale University School of Medicine. In studies of young and elderly people, the researchers found that older people had lower levels of metabolic activity in their mitochondria, the “factories” that provide power to cells. The findings suggest that reduced mitochondrial activity underlies insulin resistance, which is a major contributor to type 2 diabetes in the elderly.

Researchers show way to diabetes cure with gene therapy

A gene therapy developed by researchers at Baylor College of Medicine has apparently cured diabetes in mice by inducing cells in the liver to become beta cells that produce insulin and three other hormones. “It’s a proof of principle,” said Dr. Lawrence Chan, professor of medicine and molecular and cellular biology as well as chief of the division of diabetes, endocrinology and metabolism at the College. “The exciting part of it is that mice with diabetes are ‘cured.’ “

Chemical Keeps Pancreatic Islet Cells Healthier During Freezing

Researchers at Duke University Medical Center have shown that a novel chemical permits greater amount of insulin-producing islet cells to survive freezing intact. Additionally, the researchers reported, these cells appear to be better able to secrete insulin in response to glucose after they are thawed, in contrast to currently available techniques. The discovery could represent an important step forward in making islet cell transplants a viable treatment option for patients with diabetes, they said.

Components of diabetes in African Americans have genetic underpinnings

American children whose genetic roots strongly reach back to Africa are less sensitive to insulin-a factor important in the development of type 2 diabetes-than those whose ancestors hailed heavily from Europe, according to study results released today. Rather than relying on broad categories of race, such as black or white, researchers in diabetes and obesity from the Keck School of Medicine of USC and the University of Alabama at Birmingham analyzed a group of children for 20 key genetic markers found far more often in those of African descent than those of European descent. They found that the more African-origin markers in children’s genetic makeup, the less their bodies responded to insulin-and the more insulin in their blood.

Energy bars may not help low-carb dieters

A new study reports that energy bars with low or moderate levels of carbohydrates may actually not help dieters lose weight as they promise to do. Proponents of several diet plans ? such as the Atkins and Zone diets ? say low or moderate carbohydrate foods lead to less of an insulin spike in the blood after meals, which helps lead to people burning more fat and losing more weight. However, this new study found that energy bars advertised as having low or moderate levels of carbohydrate don’t actually reduce insulin levels in the blood as much as expected. The bottom line is that these energy bars may not contribute to weight loss, at least not in the way that manufacturers are advertising they do.