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Clinical Study to Investigate the Relationship Between Fat, Diabetes and Obesity


A clinical study led by UMass Memorial Diabetes Center of Excellence Endocrinologist Dr. Michael Thompson and the Corvera lab at UMass Chan Medical School investigated what causes diabetes and related metabolic conditions, including obesity.

“Fat actually keeps us healthy," said to Silvia Corvera, MD, professor and Chair in Diabetes Research at UMass Chan. “However, where we carry our fat matters greatly.”

The location of body fat varies among individuals, with fat deposits around the belly being a risk factor for diabetes. The purpose of this research is to find out how fat cells from the abdomen and buttock regions are different. 

“People who carry fat in their legs and arms are actually protected from diabetes and cardiovascular disease, so long as the amount of belly fat is significantly less than the fat in the legs and arms,” said Dr. Corvera. “It’s our goal to determine if these cells are different in people with type 2 diabetes, because it may help explain what causes diabetes and related conditions including obesity.”

The Corvera lab has had success removing fat from any part of the human body, creating stem cells, and instructing them to make “healthy” brown fat to improve metabolism in our humanized mouse models. They continue to study whether we may someday be able to use our own fat to combat obesity. 

"We've shown that if we take these human stem cells, make them brown, and put them into humanized mouse models, we improve the metabolism of those mice," added Dr. Corvera.

Their findings were presented by Tiffany DeSouza & Rachel Ziegler (below) at the 2023 American Diabetes Association Scientific Sessions in San Diego.  

Studying human fat tissue as a treatment for type 2 diabetes

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