Skip to comments.'Diabetic effect' in dolphins offers new hope for type 2 diabetes cure
Posted on 02/20/2010 9:43:43 AM PST by SmartInsight
Dolphins are the only animals apart from humans to develop a natural form of type 2 diabetes...
...the marine mammals can turn this state on and off when appropriate, so it is not normally harmful.
The unexpected discovery has emerged from a study of more than 1,000 blood samples collected from 52 dolphins. When the animals had fasted overnight, their blood sugar remained high and their blood chemistry changed in ways similar to diabetic patients. Unlike people with diabetes, the dolphins' blood reverted to normal once they had been fed.
Dr Venn-Watson said that such controlled diabetes might be beneficial to dolphins. Their diet of fish is high in protein and low in sugar, and they often go long periods without eating, yet they have large brains with high energy demands.
By making their bodies resistant to insulin while fasting, they may be able to keep their brains well supplied with sugar. Once they have eaten, the insulin resistance stops to prevent damage to their health.
(Excerpt) Read more at timesonline.co.uk ...
What this demonstrates that while obesity and too much sugar is certainly not good for you, and may contribute to various illnesses, it's not the major cause of diabetes, instead, the cause seems to be some signalling mechanism that goes haywire in humans, which the dolphins' bodies turn on or off automatically.
Hopefully studying the dolphins they discover the mechanism and help people treat the cause of the disease, not merely the symptoms.
How do you get a dolphin to fast ?????
Neat. Hope they figure it out.
Ellendra - pinging you. Wasn’t there something about this in that book you read, “Survival of the Sickest”?
Article said many times the dolphins can’t find fish to eat, so they “fast”.
This is interesting. I’ve often tipped into the pre-diabetic stage after overnight fasting but I have never tested high for glucose or even nominally high 2 hours after eating. In fact it is about perfect. I test myself every morning and it is usually a little higher than I would like. Very interesting article.
Don't feed them for a while.
Who knew that they observed Lent.
from the article-
“She emphasised that the research did not mean that dolphins should be used as laboratory animals, as their large brains and high intelligence would make this unethical.”
FYI: The author of this article somehow over looks the possibility that all mammals may share this not-so-unique capability. In humans the pituitary may secrete human growth hormone at night when glucose levels descend to levels approaching hypoglycemia. The HGH blocks skeletal muscle ability to upload glucose for some time. I would be willing to speculate that this HGH glucose relationship is present in most mammals. The muscles are redirected to oxidize fatty acids as an alternative source of energy. The value in this study may be confined to the reference: “One dolphin that had especially high insulin levels compared to others, also had a 10-year history of iron overload, or hemochromatosis. Iron overload is associated with type 2 diabetes in people, Venn-Watson noted.”
Over 3.2 million people die a year worldwide because of Type II, and they will not do intrusive tests since they love the animal too much. Now I love Flipper as much next guy, but are a few dolphins lives worth several million humans? I know this doesn’t necessarily mean a cure, but in a normal world it would be worth checking out.
And yes,I am to invoke logic. Logic clearly dictates that the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few (dolphins).
Well, I don’t think they necessarily would need to do anything harmful to the dolphins to study them, do some blood tests, check some hormones, which they are already doing.
The wood frog, Rana sylvatica, freezes solid, and survives the winter, due the frogs ability to increase the glucose in the blood supply, which acts like an antifreeze....
don’t feed it
The book focused more on type 1 diabetes, but yeah. Certain types of fat cells can turn blood sugar directly into heat, so it’s thought that diabetes helped people survive the latest ice age.
Don’t know if dolphins have the same type of fat, though.
Do they have high blood pressure? Surely they get a lot of salt.