Tracking the Spectrum of Insulin Resistance in Diabetes
Mary-Elizabeth Patti, M.D.
Thursday, April 21, 2011
Type 2 diabetes begins with insulin resistance, but how does that condition progress to the fullblown disease? The Joslin cohort study, run by Mary-Elizabeth Patti, M.D., and Allison Goldfine, M.D., addresses this question by looking at volunteers along the spectrum of insulin resistance, from no signs of the condition all the way to full-blown type 2 diabetes.
Once people have diabetes, their metabolism changes so much “that it becomes very unclear whether the changes you observe are resulting from the diabetes or are causing the diabetes,” explains Dr. Patti. “If we can identify factors that are different in people at risk for diabetes, those factors may play a causal role in diabetes development.”
The project examines the family histories of the volunteers along with analyses of their blood as well as muscle and fat tissues. As Dr. Patti and her colleagues find more about changes in gene and protein expression as well as body metabolism among these various populations, they follow up with lab studies in cells and animal models. The approach is sparking a number of significant discoveries, including new targets for therapies to prevent or treat the disease.