Monday, February 22, 2010

Diabetes & Dolphins: What If?

When I was in Hong Kong recently I had dinner with a doctor friend who had Type 2 diabetes. He told me that he now uses insulin. He finds he could think and function better.


Imagine my surprise when I read:


The New York Times:

By GARDINER HARRIS
Published: February 19, 2010
Hundreds of people taking Avandia, a controversial diabetes medicine, needlessly suffer heart attacks and heart failure each month, according to confidential government reports that recommend the drug be removed from the market.

Avandia, intended to treat Type 2 diabetes, is known as rosiglitazone and was linked to 304 deaths during the third quarter of 2009.

Then on the same day in the National Geographic News:
Dolphins Turn Diabetes Off and On -- Hope for Humans?
Victoria Jaggard in San Diego/Published February 19, 2010
Bottlenose dolphins have what could be called type 2 diabetes, but unlike humans, the animals are able to turn it off and on—perhaps an evolutionary adaptation to maintain their big brains, new research suggests.
Bottlenose Dolphin. NOAA image
Diabetes may have arisen in Ice Age humans for similar reasons, so the newfound dolphin on-off switch may be a key to curing type 2 diabetes in people.

Like humans, dolphins have relatively large brains compared to their body sizes—in fact, dolphins are second only to humans in the ratio between body and brain size. 

Scientists know that humans need plenty of a sugar called glucose to keep their 
.brains functioning. Some researchers think  the same might be true for dolphins, since both species send high amounts of glucose through their bloodstreams.

Dolphins, however, primarily eat fish, which are high in protein and low in sugar. To get enough glucose from this diet, dolphins have evolved a mostly harmless form of insulin resistance, according to Stephanie Venn-Watson, director of clinical research for the U.S. nonprofit  National Marine Mammal Foundation(Press Release).

Is it indeed possible that we try to feed our brain at the cost of other organs? Has evolution done away with our ability to switch?

Could further studies on the dolphin throw more light on humans?

In the mean time, it may be best to do what the doctors do, not what they tell you!!! Just like my doctor friend.

1 comment:

Vanessa said...

Diabetes could really be so severe so we need to have a cure for it.

It is so nice to know that we can always have a cure for diabetes.

To know our condition, we can use elisakits. These help in detecting many diseases.