Saturday, February 20, 2010

Dolphins Can Manage Diabetes

Stephanie Venn-Watson has just presented data suggesting that dolphins have the ability to switch on and off type II diabetes depending on the availability of food.

"By taking regular blood samples of the dolphins, she discovered that they could induce type II diabetes at times of fasting and then almost immediately turn it off again when food became available."

Here is the full news story by the Richard Alleyne, published in the Telegraph. I'm very interested in reading the actual article. I'm guessing that the dolphins can somehow control their insulin production (some forms of type II diabetes affect your response to insulin in addition to production), and I wonder at what level this regulation is happening. I also wonder if there are other species that have this ability, as it's likely to be a generally useful trick for mammals. Perhaps there are even humans whose insulin production varies in and out of diabetic states in response to food scarcity.

I'd like to see more functional data on how this works, but it's a very interesting idea.