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Washington University Researchers Uncover New Way to Treat Diabetes, Obesity

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Getty/Suzy Allman

Getty/Suzy Allman

CBS St. Louis (con't)

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ST. LOUIS (KMOX) - It’s still early, but Washington University researchers are making progress in targeting a new way to  treat diabetes and obesity.

It all has to do with disabling the protein that turns white fat cells in our bodies – the fat which stores excess calories – into brown fat cells which help burn calories.

Senior investigator Clay Semenkovich says they found targeting fatty acid synthase is the key.

“This provides a pathway and a potential new target to actually activate these brown fat cells,” Semenkovich said.

Studying mice, Washington University researchers found that when the targetted protein was disabled, the animals became more sensitive to insulin and were less likely to get fat, even when they ate a high-fat diet.

“I think there are probably multiple different ways [to lose weight], this is just one,” he said. “Any time you identify a new one and it actually provides hope for people who have obesity and diabetes.”

Clinical human trials are still to come.

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