Sponge Implants May Lower Blood Sugar, Says New Diabetes Research
Research into diabetes treatment is heading in a new direction. A recent study by Michael Gower, an assistant professor of chemical and biomedical engineering, Michael Hendley, an engineering doctoral student, and their colleagues at the University of South Carolina in Columbia made a breakthrough discovery on how to improve type 2 diabetes for patients. They discovered that sponge implants in fat tissues can be used to lower blood sugar levels and reduce weight gain. The experiment involved implanting polymer sponges in mice with symptoms of type 2 diabetes and giving them a high-fat diet. After three weeks, they were observed to gain less body fat, have lower blood sugar, and increased proteins that help absorb sugar into muscle cells.
With diabetes, the body does not produce enough insulin to absorb sugar properly, and this negatively impacts organs such as the brain and liver, as well as the muscles. If left untreated, it could be life-threatening. It can cause sight impairment, kidney disease, heart problems, stroke, and other health issues. Monitoring sugar levels is very important, and for this, blood is regularly extracted. Patients are recommended to follow a healthy diet, control weight gain, take oral medications, and participate in regular physical exercise. Financially, as well, diabetes can be a major concern.
A study done by Michael Gower, Michael Hendley, and their colleagues resulted in a breakthrough discovery in the improvement of type 2 diabetes. They discovered how sponge implants in fat tissue could be used to treat the condition. Fat tissue behaves like an organ that can affect the functions of other organs, such as the response to insulin and glucose absorption by producing specific compounds. These tissues can also change the body’s metabolism and energy by releasing certain chemicals. Because of this, fat tissue became the subject of various experiments; Michael Gower wanted to know the effect of polymer sponge on these fat tissues. Polymer sponge is widely used in modern medicine. It is made of materials that connect to form a chain, or bond. Two groups of obese mice were fed a fat-rich diet, from which they began to show type 2 diabetes symptoms. One group was then treated with sponge implants in their fat tissue while the other group was made the control and left alone. After a week, they found that the implants were filled with fat cells, as well as immune cells and blood vessels. Physical characteristics were examined in the third week, and between the treated mice and the control group, there were significant differences noted. Compared to the untreated mice, the body fat gained in the treated mice was much less; there was only a ten percent increase for the treated mice, whereas the control group saw a thirty percent gain in fat. The blood sugar levels in the treated mice were also low compared to the control group. A protein was found to be present in the treated mice that aids the absorption of glucose from the blood into the muscles. The level of this protein was 60 percent higher in the treated group than in the control group. Also, no negative side effects of this treatment were observed in the treated group, which is remarkable. Reportedly, no ill effects of the treatment have been found.
However, further clinical investigations are needed since it is still not known how the communication between fat tissue and other organs changes in the presence of polymer sponge. Once the exact mechanism is determined, the research can be fine-tuned to be even more effective. Another focus is on how to further improve the polymer sponge itself. Researchers want to know if using biochemical materials can enhance the activity of the polymer sponge, and already, some studies have found that introducing resveratrol can do so. This research was funded by the University of South Carolina as well as an organization supported by the National Institute of Health called COBRE (Centre for Dietary Supplements and Inflammation).