Scientists at the University of Montreal Hospital Research Center have discovered an enzyme, not previously known to exist in mammalian cells, called glycerol-3-phosphate phosphatase that shunts sugar products to the outside of cells when blood sugar levels are high. This enzyme was also found in rats and in lab cultured cells to control several metabolic pathways including sugar breakdown, fat production, fat breakdown, fat burning and energy metabolism in the mitochondria of cells in the liver and in beta cells that make insulin. It also helps regulate insulin secretion and other things. This discovery of the existence and function of G3PP could be targeted to prevent or treat obesity and type 2 diabetes by blocking excessive formation and storage of fat and lowering glucose production in the liver.
The traditional take on obesity causes and treatments is that it is complicated. That point of view has been illustrated by a parable that I have heard explained by Harvard professor Lee M Kaplan MD at the Obesity Summit 2007, in Cleveland. Dr. Kaplan calls it the 6th brake solution. The 6th brake solution to obesity goes like this:
Apparently (I’m not a mechanic) your car has 9 brakes. Each wheel has a break, then there is a back-up system for each wheel and then there is the hand brake. This is a good idea since being able to stop the car is important. If one or two of these brakes fail you have no problem. It is not until 6 brakes fail that you begin to have trouble stopping the car. By analogy, energy storage, the job of fat in your body, is so vital that there are powerful and redundant systems to accomplish it. The cure of obesity will have to involve knocking out multiple brakes, that is, multiple resistances to weight loss. So the cure will not be one pill or one simple thing. It will be more like the treatments of type 2 diabetes and hypertension. The best treatment of obesity will involve lots of things that attack it from different angles.
But I think if you cut just one of the brake lines and the fluid leaks out then you lose all 4 wheel brakes except for the hand brake (I’m not a mechanic). Obesity is complicated and has many different causes. But we have talked about several magic bullets in our fat science column, most recently in one just last month (December 12, 2016).
If one of these magic bullets pans out then not only will obesity be cured but also most of high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, cholesterol problems, heart disease and strokes. That is pretty much everything that internists and family doctors take care of. They will go out of business and have to drive Uber cabs.
John DiTraglia M.D. is a Pediatrician in Portsmouth. He can be reached by e-mail- [email protected] or phone-354-6605.