WVU research shows new class of hormones may reverse diabetes and obesity

Graduate student’s presentation wins international award

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – Research findings of a graduate student in the Department of Biochemistry at West Virginia University could potentially aid in the development of a new therapeutic approach to treat diabetes and obesity.

Sushant Bhatnagar’s research, which recently won a first-place award at an international conference in Arizona, is determining how a newly discovered hormone – termed fibroblast growth factor-19 – reverses type 2 diabetes and obesity in animals. The compound inhibits synthesis of fat in the liver, a metabolic process that plays a key role in the development of type 2 diabetes and obesity in humans.

“These studies have tremendous implications to the citizens of West Virginia, as obesity and its related diseases are the leading health problem in the state,” said Brad Hillgartner, Ph.D., Bhatnagar’s doctoral advisor and professor of biochemistry.

Bhatnagar was one of 90 researchers at the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology (FASEB) summer research conference titled “Molecular Mechanisms Involved in the Nutrient Control of Cellular Function.” The conference included scientists from all across the United States and parts of Europe and Australia.

Bhatnagar’s poster presentation, “Fibroblast Growth Factor-19: A Novel Factor that Inhibits Hepatic Fatty Acid Synthesis,” took first place.

“One of the main topics of the meeting was the mechanism by which nutrients and growth factors regulate carbohydrate, lipid and protein metabolism and thereby control cellular function,” Hillgartner explained. “Studies addressing this topic have significantly increased our understanding of the factors contributing to the development of metabolic diseases such as diabetes and obesity.”

Scientists suspect several members of the fibroblast growth factor family may show potential as medications for treating diabetes and obesity, Hillgartner said.


For more information:
Angela Jones, HSC News Service, 304-293-7087
asj: 09-30-08

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