Obesity Development and Insulin Resistance
Project Leader: Dr Sara Suliman, Clinical DPhil Student
Sara is currently completing a Clinical DPhil at the Oxford Centre for Diabetes, Endocrinology and Metabolism (OCDEM). The theme of her research is investigating chromosomal rearrangement linked to obesity and diabetes.
Complications as a result of obesity are an increasing problem in the UK. Up to 3% of the population have a form of diabetes, and this figure is set to increase as the population ages and becomes more overweight. Sara and her colleagues have identified a gene that may play a role in central obesity and insulin resistance resulting in diabetes.
Partial lipodystrophy is a genetic syndrome associated with diabetes and insulin resistance, consisting of an inability to accumulate fat on the limbs with excess fat deposited on the trunk. Sara and colleagues have determined that partial lipodystrophy, which was once considered a rare cause of diabetes is actually under-diagnosed. They have gone on to develop a relatively simple clinical test that identifies these patients. As these patients have an increased risk of developing diabetes, early detection of partial lipodystrophy is critical in focusing treatment and prevention strategies.
Understanding how fat actually grows is a key in determining the mechanisms driving obesity development. By comparing benign tumours of fat tissue, called lipomas, with adjacent fat tissue, Sara is trying to determine these mechanisms in order to identify new treatments for obesity-related diseases.