The newly discovered class of fats could cause a revolution in therapy – healing practice

Identified lipids for the treatment of diabetes

Researchers have one new fat class identified who insulin sensitivitydie blood sugar control and more metabolic parameters influence. Discovery opens the door to potential new treatment options for type 1 and type 2 diabetes.

Working group Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston (USA) have the function of a special group of lipids, the so-called FAHFA, decrypted. Fats affect blood sugar, insulin sensitivity and metabolism and are therefore a very interesting target for the treatment of diabetes. The results were recently presented in the journal Nature.

Diabetes is a widespread metabolic disease

They are round worldwide 422 million people have diabetesabout 1.5 million people die of metabolic diseases each year.

Type 1 diabetes is a chronic disease in which insulin is produced Beta cells in pancreas No Insulin produce more.

Type 2 diabetes occurs when the body resistant or insensitive to insulin happens.

Insulin however, it is essential for the body control your blood sugar. Both variants of the disease regularly lead to increased blood sugar levels, which over time can cause serious damage to the heart, blood vessels, eyes, kidneys and nerves.

Despite treatment, complications can occur

There are many treatment options to get your metabolic disease under control, such as one targeted nutrition and Insulin injectionBut many patients, despite treatment, have difficulty controlling their blood sugar levels, which leads to risk of complications is increased.

A new class of lipids has been discovered

The US research team has now identified a key enzyme for the synthesis of a new class of lipids called FAHFA, which are formed in human tissue. FAHFAs have beneficial effects on insulin sensitivity, glycemic control and other metabolic parameters.

“The long-term goal is to safely replace the insulin-producing beta cells in the pancreas in people with type 1 diabetes, but that would require protecting those cells from an attack by the immune system.”he explained Professor Dr. Barbara B. Kahn from Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center.

A breakthrough in diabetes research

“We have shown that these FAHFA lipids protect beta cells from immune attack and metabolic stress”, according to Dr. barge. and Increased FAHFA levels according to the working group, both Treatment of type 1 and type 2 diabetes be appropriate.

“Our new discovery is a breakthrough because we know for the first time how these lipids are formed in mammalian tissues.”emphasizes the expert.

FAHFA discovered in 2014

In 2014, Kahn’s team, in collaboration with Professor Alan Saghatelian (now at the Salk Institute), discovered a previously unknown class of lipids called FAHFA – short for hydroxy fatty acid esters.

FAHFAs are directly related to insulin sensitivity

According to researchers, FAHFA levels in humans are directly related to insulin sensitivity. In obese mice, the team has already been able to demonstrate FAHFA administration Improved glycemic control in animals and reduced pro-inflammatory immune responses.

The researchers were also able to show that lipids protect insulin-producing beta cells in the pancreas immune cell attacks and before cellular stress protection. In obese people, natural FAHFA levels are often too lowemphasizes the research team.

Enzyme as a missing piece of the puzzle

In the current study, a team led by Dr. Kahn has now found that an enzyme called fat triglyceride lipase (ATGL) plays a key role in FAHFA lipid synthesis. ATGL is the major biosynthetic enzyme for FAHFA in adipose tissue.

In addition, researchers have been able to prove that obese and insulin-resistant people have lower levels of ATGL in white adipose tissue like slender people. ATGL appears to be associated with a reduction in FAHFA in insulin-resistant people.

Overall, the Working Party considers that the factors listed here lead to increasing the severity of diabetes. The ATGL and FAHFA seal modifications can be a a new therapeutic strategy for the treatment of diabetes represent.

Prevention of type 2 diabetes through FAHFA

“Ideally, the new findings could be used to increase FAHFA levels in people at risk for type 2 diabetes to prevent or improve glycemic control in people who already have type 2 diabetes.”summarizes Professor Kahn.

“Understanding ATGL regulation could lead to strategies to increase these beneficial lipids in metabolic and immune-mediated diseases.”, Kahn concludes. (vb)

Author and resource information

This text conforms to the specifications of the medical literature, medical recommendations and current studies and has been reviewed by medical experts.


Postgraduate editor (FH) Volker Blašek


  • Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center: Breakthrough Finding May Benefit Diabetes Patients (published: 14.06.2022),
  • Patel, R., Santoro, A., Hofer, P. et al. ATGL is a biosynthetic enzyme for fatty acid esters of hydroxy fatty acids; in: Nature (2022).,

Important note:
This article contains general advice only and should not be used for self-diagnosis or treatment. It can’t replace a doctor’s visit.

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