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Researchers with the University of Montreal Hospital Research Center discovered an enzyme present in all body tissues that breaks down glucose and fat. If excess production of the enzyme is triggered artificially, a number of ailments related to excess retention of fat and sugar could be tackled.
That doesn’t mean of course we could eat ourselves into a sugar coma and go about it guilt free. Yet this novel discovery could pave the way for new treatments that can remove the excess glucose and fat from cells. Cells in the mammal body use both sugar and fat as nutrients to grow and develop. As always, too much of any can become a real health hazard.
Doctor Murthy Madiraju and Doctor Marc Prentki, the lead researchers on the study, were searching for clues as to the mechanisms which enable beta cells to ‘detoxify’. This means transforming excess glucose into glycerol. Their and their team’s discovery of an enzyme present in all body tissues that breaks down glucose and fat is presented in the January 11th issue of the Proceeding of the National Academy of Sciences journal.
The research team named the newly discovered enzyme glycerol 3-phosphate phosphatase (G3PP). So far the G3PP enzyme is only known to fulfill this function. When there is too much glucose in our body, the levels of G3PP enzyme may grow to potentially harmful rates. Beta cells present in the pancreas are the most vulnerable to this increase. When they are harmed, the levels of insulin drop alarmingly.
Thus, while the G3PP enzyme was found to be crucial in breaking down excess glycerol phosphate, a balance needs to be found. Otherwise, excessive levels of G3PP in beta cells may harm a number of tissues and lead to cell death.
Fatty acids in addition to glucose are the nutrients of cells in our bodies. Healthy and well nourished cells will maintain vital functions such as producing glucose in the liver or insulin in the pancreas or breaking down the nutrients received in order to create energy. When these functions are disrupted, health problems like cardiovascular disease or type 2 diabetes ensue.
As such, the G3PP enzyme was found to help a great deal with breaking down glycerol phosphate to glycerol which is then removed from cells by osmosis. The G3PP enzyme resembles a naturally ‘in-built’ detox mechanism for our body. The research team is aware that more in-depth studies need to be conducted. However, the discovery of the G3PP enzyme offers a new approach to leveraging therapies against metabolic syndrome, obesity or type 2 diabetes.
Photo Credits: Flickr