Sparks, Lauren M., PhD
Exercise resistance in Type 2 diabetes
General Research Subject: Type 2 Diabetes
Focus: Exercise, Exercise\Human, Exercise\Regulation of Muscle Metabolism, Gene Chips and Microarrays
Type of Grant: Junior Faculty
Project Start Date: July 1, 2013
Project End Date: June 30, 2016
Diabetes Type: Type 2 diabetes
By 2050 the number of people with diagnosed diabetes in the United States will reach 29 million. Increased sedentary behavior, coupled with early onset of type 2 diabetes (T2D), has popularized exercise interventions as an investigative tool of the health benefits associated with physical activity and as a feasible lifestyle modification. We know that exercise benefits most, but not all, individuals with insulin resistance (IR) and T2D. The beneficial effects are well studied, but why some individuals do not respond favorably to exercise is largely unexplored. Few studies have sought to unravel the potential mechanisms for this so called "exercise resistance".
The goal of this proposal is to identify those individuals with T2D that do not respond favorably to exercise and investigate the underlying mechanisms which predict this lack of response. These findings will change how we prescribe exercise as a treatment and prevention for T2D. This work is innovative both in its translational approach of combining human and cell/laboratory models and in its cutting-edge methodologies in the clinic and at the bench.
We will provide definitive results on the effects of endurance training on muscle metabolism in individuals with T2D and how these responses (or lack thereof) can be predicted by the patterns of genes in their muscle tissue and cells. This research will move the field forward and has the potential to shift the paradigm, allowing exercise interventions to be targeted to those individuals most likely to benefit and identify novel approaches to treat those who do not.
What area of diabetes research does your project cover? What role will this particular project play in preventing, treating and/or curing diabetes?
My project for the ADA Junior Faculty Award focuses on both prevention and treatment for type 2 diabetes. The global aim of the project is to identify those individuals with type 2 diabetes that do not respond favorably to exercise and investigate the underlying mechanisms that may be responsible for this "roadblock". The ultimate goal is to use these findings to develop a strategy to treat these individuals so that they can reap the metabolic benefits of exercise in order to prevent the onset of type 2 diabetes or treat their current metabolic status through lifestyle interventions such as exercise.
If a person with diabetes were to ask you how your project will help them in the future,
how would you respond?
I would tell them that the main goal of my project is to be able to personalize our prevention and treatment strategies for individuals with type 2 diabetes. At present, exercise is routinely prescribed as a way to prevent or control type 2 diabetes. I want people at risk for developing diabetes, or those currently struggling with diabetes, to be able to benefit from their efforts in the gym.
Why is it important for you, personally, to become involved in diabetes research? What role will this award play in your research efforts?
From a personal perspective, I have always used--and continue to use--exercise as a way to maintain my health. I have a family history of severe obesity and type 2 diabetes, and I struggle with this on a daily basis. I want to use this award to further my research in this area of metabolism and diabetes in an effort to find new strategies to help others with their battle against diabetes.
I plan to use the findings from this current project to build an application for a larger grant that centers around developing clinical biomarkers--which can be measured non-invasively--to identify those individuals that do not respond favorably to exercise. Furthermore, the targets discovered in my current project will also be investigated further in an effort to understand their role(s) in the "resistance to exercise" and ultimately develop compounds to ameliorate this lack of a response in individuals with diabetes.
In what direction do you see the future of diabetes research going?
The future of diabetes research is certainly moving in the direction of personalized--or precision--medicine. Current research in this area of metabolism and diabetes continues to discover genes and signaling pathways that differ among even the most homogenous groups of individuals. These differences ultimately lead to variations in their physiological responses to medications and treatments. It is therefore imperative that we utilize these findings to develop strategies to exploit these differences among individuals in order to maximize each person's response to a prevention or treatment.
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