Although weight loss and improved diabetes symptoms go hand in hand, previous research has shown that gastric bypass surgery helps resolve the disease even before weight loss occurs.
According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, diabetes affects almost 26 million people—more than eight percent of the population. The condition can lead to eye, kidney, and nerve damage, and puts patients at greater risk of heart attacks and stroke.
“The problem becomes even bigger if one considers that type 2 diabetes rates will only increase because of the increased obesity rates, and since obesity and type 2 diabetes are linked,” Stylopoulos said. “And to add another scary thing, the childhood obesity rates have tripled since 1980s, so all these complications will start appearing in younger people.”
Bypassing the Bypass
Stylopoulos’ initial research has focused on rats. He has yet to determine whether GLUT-1 also appears in humans who have gastric bypass surgery. Next, the research team will test whether non-surgical techniques can re-create the effects of gastric bypass in animals.
Their goal is to find a way to turn the small intestine into a “depot” to “dump” glucose from the bloodstream, Stylopoulos said. That would be a novel way to get rid of some circulating glucose in the body. This would be a boon for patients with diabetes, since lowering blood glucose levels can prevent diabetic complications.