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Dolphins may offer clues to treating diabetes

Insulin-resistance switch helps maintain glucose levels to aid brain, study shows

By
9:43pm, February 18, 2010

SAN DIEGO — Fish might be brain food, but it doesn’t supply the high levels of fuel needed to keep a dolphin brain functioning. New research adds to evidence suggesting that bottlenose dolphins go into a harmless diabetic state during overnight fasting, thereby maintaining high levels of glucose in the blood. The research, presented at a news briefing February 18 at the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, suggests that dolphins may be a good model for studying diabetes and could offer insights into treating the disease in people.

Carbohydrates typically provide animals a glucose fix. But dolphin diets are high in protein and very low in glucose-rich carbs. Dolphins may have a “diabetic switch” that “helps keep the brain well-fed” even when they haven’t eaten for a while, said veterinary epidemiologist Stephanie Venn-Watson of the National Marine Mammal Foundation in San Diego. “Brains nee

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