Diabetes is a severe problem that impacts some millions of people throughout the world. Obesity also impacts a huge part of the global population. A new scientific discovery may have identified a way to prevent both of these disorders.
Obesity has been connected with a wide range of serious problems, like as heart disease, stroke, specific types of cancer, and type 2 diabetes.
Type 2 diabetes is also wide-spread, with the CDC reporting that more than 29 million People in America are living with the problem, and an additional 86 million have pre-diabetes.
Diabetes can result in serious problems, and this is the 7th leading cause of death in the U.S.
While there is presently no cure for diabetes, researchers are examining several options, which includes pancreas transplantation and genetic manipulation.
Investigators at the Catholic University of Louvain in Belgium may have made a breakthrough by finding a protein that could soon stop the development of diabetes and obesity in human beings.
Investigating the bacteria Akkermansia in mice.
For the past decade, investigators led by Patrice Cani, a WELBIO investigator at the Louvain Drug Research Institute of the University of Louvain, and Willem de Vos, professor at the University of Wageningen in the Netherlands, have been doing work on a bacterium known as Akkermansia muciniphila.
Akkermansia are one of the very common bacteria, accounting for 1-5 % of the gut microbiota.
Cani and team have found, for the first time, that Akkermansia muciniphila may be essential in the battle against obesity and type 2 diabetes.
Investigators hypothesized about the key part of Akkermansia in 2007 and proved their hypothesis in 2013. Until then, it was identified that type 2 diabetes and obesity are characterized by altered gut microbiota, inflammation, and gut barrier disruption, but the exact mechanism accountable for this was unknown.
In their 2013 research, Cani and team isolated Akkermansia muciniphila – a mucin-degrading bacterium that exists in the mucus layer. They observed that levels of this bacterium were reduced in obese rodents. They also given an Akkermansia-based treatment to mice, which corrected various metabolic problems.
Studying pasteurized Akkermansia in humans
Now, the scientists have made the decision to produce Akkermansia and test it on human beings. The study trials have been on-going since December 2015 at the Saint-Luc clinics of the University of Louvain.
For now, investigators have proven that using the bacterium on humans is safe. However, the researchers still have to confirm that the positive effects confirmed in mice in 2013 also apply to humans.
During their study, Cani and team unintentionally discovered that pasteurization has positive results on Akkermansia:
“Suddenly, we identified that pasteurization of A. muciniphila improved its capacity to decrease fat mass development, insulin resistance and dyslipidemia in mice.”
Researchers were attempting to facilitate the production of Akkermansia by identifying a way to make it inactive without wiping out its properties. Pasteurization was one such way, as it makes the bacterium stable and much easier to administer.
However, after pasteurizing it, investigators identified that its efficacy had doubled. Akkermansia became so efficient that it prevented the development of the obesity and type 2 diabetes mice.
This is the initial time that researchers have shown pasteurized Akkermansia effective against these metabolic situations in mice.
The advantages of the purified protein Amuc_1100
In an effort to understand why the bacterium was made so powerful by pasteurization, investigators isolated a protein that can be identified on the outer membrane of the bacterium.
Since pasteurization destroys off everything in the bacterium except the protein, investigators hypothesized that this protein might be the reason for its effectiveness.
With the aid of genetic engineering, researchers developed the protein Amuc_1100 and examined it on rodents.
Outcomes revealed the protein Amuc_1100 was as effective in stopping diabetes and obesity as pasteurized Akkermansia.
As the study authors note, their research shows that Akkermansia muciniphila “maintains its efficacy when developed on a synthetic medium” and is “compatible with human administration.”
Amuc_1100 is well-known to be good for the immune system, as it blocks toxins from getting into the bloodstream and strengthens the immunity of the intestines.
In future, the protein Amuc_1100 could help prevent diabetes and obesity in human beings, and later on it may also treat other problems, like inflammation of the intestine triggered by stress, alcoholism, liver disease, or cancer.