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National Institutes of Health seeking Type 2 diabetes insulin resistance solution

Nick Burton, Ph.D., Van Andel Institute
Van Andel Institute
Van Andel Institute
Nick Burton, Ph.D., Van Andel Institute

A Grand Rapids Van Andel Institute researcher has received a federal award for developing a diabetes insulin resistance prevention treatment.

In almost all animals, insulin regulates metabolism and growth and development.

There are more than 35 million people, or 1 in 10 U.S. residents, living with Type 2 diabetes. They either lack insulin or have it but their body fails to respond to it correctly making Insulin resistance the underlying cause of the disease.

The National Institutes of Health is seeking a solution. Through its Common Fund, N.I.H. has awarded Dr. Nick Burton its nearly $2.9 million New Innovator Award.

The Van Andel Institute scientist believes there are human microbiomes either predisposing or causing insulin resistance.

“And if we can harness that, we might be able to prevent the development of Type 2 diabetes or insulin resistance in humans. And prevent a lot of the diseases associated with them. All we have to do is find them…Our entire hypothesis came about from really, studies of worms and flies. Critters that predominantly exist out in compost piles. And that this was the most likely place we would find bacteria that had mechanisms to basically cure insulin resistance in these animals.”

The grant provides Dr. Burton and his four-member team a five-year window for discovering and adapting the bacteria to treat humans.

Patrick joined WGVU Public Media in December, 2008 after eight years of investigative reporting at Grand Rapids' WOOD-TV8 and three years at WYTV News Channel 33 in Youngstown, Ohio. As News and Public Affairs Director, Patrick manages our daily radio news operation and public interest television programming. An award-winning reporter, Patrick has won multiple Michigan Associated Press Best Reporter/Anchor awards and is a three-time Academy of Television Arts & Sciences EMMY Award winner with 14 nominations.