Protein discovery could tackle both obesity and type 2 diabetes

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Belgium researchers have identified a protein that they believe could prevent the development of obesity and type 2 diabetes.
For more than 10 years, scientists at the University of Louvain have been experimenting with a bacterium called Akkermansia muciniphila, which is one of the most common bacteria.
For the first time, it has been shown that the bacteria could play a vital role in combating obesity in type 2 diabetes. After facilitating the production of Akkermansia, the bacterium prevented the development of these conditions in mice.
It is known that type 2 diabetes and obesity are associated with altered gut microbiota and inflammation, but the reason for this has been unknown. In a previous study, Louvain researchers observed that levels of Akkermansia were lower in obese rodents, and when it was administered to the mice a number of metabolic diseases were reversed.
Since December 2015, a study team led by Patrice Cani have been working towards testing the bacterium on humans. Most recently, they discovered that pasteurisation has positive effects on Akkermansia.
“Unexpectedly, we discovered that pasteurisation of A. muciniphila enhanced its capacity to reduce fat mass development, insulin resistance and dyslipidemia in mice,” said Cani.
Pasteurisation, which killed off everything in the bacterium except for a protein called Amuc_1100, make the bacterium stable and easier to administer. Furthermore, it led to the efficacy doubling in a subsequent mice study.
It is this protein that was found to be effective in stopping obesity and type 2 diabetes, which works by blocking toxins from reaching the bloodstream and strengthening the immune system.
The study authors believe their findings demonstrate that Akkermansia is “compatible with human administration” because it “retains its efficacy when grown on a synthetic medium”.
The findings appear in the journal Nature Medicine.