Scientists explain that a protein often called as the 'fat controller' could offer new hope in treating cystic fibrosis.
The researchers from the University of Dundee have claimed to uncover a link between cystic fibrosis, cancer, diabetes and obesity. Dr Anil Mehta the head of the international research team at Dundee University said that the findings could improve the effectiveness of treatment for patients who suffer from these diseases.
It was explained that Cystic fibrosis (CF) is a genetic disease affecting organs by clogging them with thick sticky mucus. CF is also known to disrupt the way the digestive and respiratory systems work, and it prevents the pancreas from playing the vital role in helping to break down food. It was also explained that the disease mainly affects children and young people and a baby could only develop it by inheriting two copies of the faulty gene, one from each parent.
It was explained that Dr Mehta's research team had studied the relationship between three cancer-related enzymes associated with diabetes (NDPK), fat metabolism (AMPK) and cystic fibrosis (CFTR). In their study they had discovered a new pathway between the cancer and fat metabolism enzymes, which they have dubbed the "fat controller'. They further explained that these enzymes also bind to a protein, which is responsible for causing cystic fibrosis.
The researchers believe their work could have a major impact on treatment of cystic fibrosis, adult-onset diabetes and some forms of childhood cancer. Dr Mehta said, "It has long been known that cystic fibrosis patients suffer significant variations in weight they tend to be very thin and can suffer very fast weight loss when they fall ill, but we did not know why this was the case." He further added, "Similarly, it has been known that CF patients suffer a higher rate of cancer than normal and again we did not know why. In equal measure, almost half of these patients develop an unusual form of diabetes."
Concluding that their research would have an important impact on future treatment and patient's life expectancy, he said, "What our research has uncovered are the genetic links, through this cellular fat controller, which we believe lead to these differences in fat metabolism and cancer. Furthermore, there are also significant links here to diabetes."