Not content with trying to warn us about the impending destruction of the planet Earth, it now appears that dolphins may also hold the key to curing a strain of diabetes. Is there nothing these cute mammals can't do?
According the scientists, the key lies in dolphins' ability to voluntarily control insulin resistance that can lead to a diabetes-like state. Researchers have found that dolphins use this ability to regulate glucose levels during fasting periods, ensuring their brains have enough energy until their next meal. Stephanie Venn-Watson, director of clinical research at the US National Marine Mammal Foundation, explains why this may be good news for human sufferers of type II diabetes:
Shared large brains that have high blood glucose demands may explain why two completely different species, humans and dolphins, have developed similar physiological mechanisms to handle sugar. Seals have the same diet as a dolphin but don't have this diabetic, on-or-off state. It may be because of this large brain factor. In terms of brain size compared to body size, humans come first and dolphins are next. We are looking at two species with big brains that have high demands for glucose... If dolphins have a genetic fasting switch that can turn diabetes on and off, then finding and controlling such a switch in humans could lead to the control of insulin resistance and possibly the cure to type II diabetes.
The first step in the search: Watching old episodes of Flipper.
Dolphins may hold the key to a cure for type II diabetes [Independent.co.uk]