Sponge implant could help prevent type 2 diabetes

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A pioneering implantable sponge which absorbs fat tissue could help prevent type 2 diabetes, researchers have said.
In a study which involved obese mice being fed a high-calorie diet, polymer sponges helped the animals lose weight and lower their blood sugar levels.
It took only a week for changes to occur once the sponge had been fitted inside the mice, which saw the pores absorb fat cells as well as immune and blood vessels within the body.
The mice lost 10 per cent of their body fat, compared with another group of mice which were fed the same diet, but had not been fitted with a sponge, which gained 30 per cent. The sponge group also had lower blood sugar levels and higher levels of a protein, glucose transporter type 4 (GLUT-4), which aids the transfer of blood sugar into the muscles.
Professor Michael Gower, from the University of South Carolina, said: “I think what’s really exciting about this work and its implications are that we’re looking at how implanting this biomaterial in fat tissue, which has the ability to communicate with other organs, is affecting the whole body.
“When fat stores get too large, communication with other parts of the body breaks down and can lead to diabetes. What we’re trying to do is restart that conversation.”
The work was based on previous research which discovered that fat helps organs in the body respond to insulin and blood sugar.
No negative symptoms were observed in the mice treated with the sponge, and the researchers now plan to focus on why the device worked so well.
The findings were unveiled at the American Chemical Society’s 254th National Meeting &Exposition, in Washington.