Researchers at the University of Iowa have discovered that bacteria are not only the main cause of infectious diseases, but they can also play a role in spreading type 2 diabetes. It seems that prolonged exposure to superantigens, which is a Staphylococcus aureus toxin, has an impact on your fat cells and your immune system and this can lead to systemic inflammation.
Since nearly 9% of the world’s adult population has been suffering from this condition the World Health Organization estimates that diabetes will be 7th leading cause of mortality. This is why scientists are trying to find a cure.
The lead author of the study, Patrick Schlievert, explained that by chronic exposure of rabbits to the staph superantigen diabetes was reproduced. The longer the animals were exposed to the bacteria the numerous were the symptoms of type 2 diabetes. The symptoms which the rabbits displayed included glucose intolerance, increased levels of endotoxin and systemic inflammation.
Staphylococcus aureus is found on our skin. It causes most of the skin infections. Usually the wound heal without treatment, but in some cases antibiotics are needed. If the wound is not treated Staphylococcus aureus (staph) can get into the blood stream and trigger Staphylococcal pneumonia.
The discovery of the study indicates that therapies intended to remove staph bacteria or neutralize the superantigens produced by the microorganisms could also be applied in the treatment of people who suffer from type 2 diabetes and prevent the illness development. Schlievert noted:
“I think we have a way to intercede here and alter the course of diabetes. We are working on a vaccine against the superantigens and we believe that this type of vaccine could prevent the development of type 2 diabetes.”
In addition the research explained that obesity leads to changes in the environment of the bacteria which are found in our body and this also enhances the risk of developing type 2 diabetes. According to Schlievert as people gain weight they are more prone to be colonized by staph and consequently have an increased number of these bacteria on their skin. If one is colonized by staph bacteria they are chronically exposed to the superantigens produced by the bacteria.
Researchers are working on a vaccine which can help fight superantigens. They are hopeful that this vaccine can prevent type 2 diabetes from developing. In addition a topical gel which contains glycerol monolaurate will be tested. The gel could kill the bacteria on contact and can improve the blood sugar levels.
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