Researchers believe that they have identified a potential new target for treating diabetes and obesity.
An animal study at Washington University School of Medicine in St Louis found that disabling the protein PexRAP (Peroxisomal Reductase Activating PPAR-gamma) made mice more sensible to insulin and were less likely to gain weight, even when eating a high fat diet.
The discovery was made when researchers studied how the body manufactures fat from dietary sources.
This requires an enzyme called fatty acid synthase (FAS), which when blocked transforms brown fat into brite cells that burn more energy.
Researchers now need to identify brown fat cells in humans, something which has recently caused much controversy.
Dr Clay F Semenkovich, senior investigator, commented: "It definitely exists, and perhaps the next strategy we'll use for treating people with diabetes and obesity will be to try to reverse their problems by activating these brown fat cells."
Prior to the development of diabetes, a healthy diet and lots of exercise is also key to reducing the risk factors associated with the condition.
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