Weight Loss and Diabetes Breakthrough: An Enzyme that Zaps Excess Sugar?

Jan 14, 2016 10:47 PM EST | By Beverly Abad

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Too much sugar? There's an enzyme for that!

In what could be a weight loss and diabetes breakthrough, researchers from the University of Montreal Hospital Research Center have discovered a naturally occurring enzyme, known as the "detox enzyme" that zaps excess sugar and prevents our body as storing it as fat. It is also believed that the enzyme could offer a cure for obese or diabetic people who have trouble removing sugar from their bodies.

"When glucose is abnormally elevated in the body, glucose-derived glycerol-3 phosphate reaches excessive levels in cells, and exaggerated glycerol 3 phosphate metabolism can damage various tissues," explains Professor Marc Prentki of the University of Montreal, one of the study's lead researchers.

He also added, "We found that G3PP is able to breakdown a great proportion of this excess glycerol phosphate to glycerol and divert it outside the cell, thus protecting the insulin producing beta cells of pancreas and various organs from toxic effects of high glucose levels."

Other than treating obesity, this discovery can help stop people from developing conditions like type 2 diabetes and heart problems.

Beta cells produce insulin, an important hormone that helps with controlling blood glucose. It also carries glucose to the different cells for energy production. With little or no insulin to carry the glucose, blood sugar levels spike. And when the cells are presented with excess levels of glucose and fatty acids, these nutrients become toxic, thus leading to damage, dysfunction, and eventually, diabetes.

According to Senior Scientist Dr Murthy Madiraju, "By diverting glucose as glycerol, G3PP prevents excessive formation and storage of fat and it also lowers excessive production of glucose in liver, a major problem in diabetes." He also adds, "We identified the enzyme while looking for mechanisms enabling beta cells to get rid of excess glucose as glycerol.This mechanism has also been found to be operating in liver cells, and this enzyme is present in all body tissues."

The researchers are currently looking for "small molecule activators of G3PP" to cure cardiometabolic disorders.

However, it will still take some time before a drug is developed, as it needs further research and confirmation through animal models first.

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