diabetes

George King: research leader at the Joslin Diabetes Center

Like many medical researchers, George King has a personal connection to the disease that he has spent his career studying. He has been working to understand and treat diabetes at the Joslin Diabetes Center in Boston, MA, USA, since 1981, partly because of how it has affected his own family. “Asians develop diabetes at a high rate even at low body-mass index”, he says. “So many members of my family, including my father, have developed diabetes.”

King, now Chief Scientific Officer and Director of Research at Joslin Diabetes Center and Professor of Medicine at Harvard Medical School, has had a remarkably successful career at the research centre, developing new ways to deal with diabetes and the complications that come with the disease. Read more in The Lancet.

Profile: Joslin Diabetes Center, Boston, MA, USA

The Joslin Diabetes Center has a long history of being on the cutting edge of diabetes care and research. It was founded 117 years ago by Elliott Joslin, a physician dedicated to understanding and treating type 1 diabetes in young people. He used the latest methods to treat the disease—which at that time mainly meant enforcing a starvation diet—but was quick to adopt new techniques, said John Brooks, the centre’s current president.

Joslin’s clinic became the first centre in the USA to test the use of insulin to treat diabetes in 1922, but the physician did not consider it a wonder drug. “Joslin was a pioneer in his day, he was astute enough to recognise that it wasn’t just insulin that was going to cure diabetes”, said Brooks. Read more in The Lancet.

Gut microbe may fight obesity and diabetes

Bacterium helps to regulate metabolism in mice.

The gut is home to innumerable different bacteria — a complex ecosystem that has an active role in a variety of bodily functions. In a study published this week in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, a team of researchers finds that in mice, just one of those bacterial species plays a major part in controlling obesity and metabolic disorders such as type 2 diabetes.

The bacterium, Akkermansia muciniphila, digests mucus and makes up 3–5% of the microbes in a healthy mammalian gut. But the intestines of obese humans and mice, and those with type 2 diabetes, have much lower levels. A team led by Patrice Cani, who studies the interaction between gut bacteria and metabolism at the Catholic University of Louvain in Belgium, decided to investigate the link. Read more in Nature.