Research carried out at the University of California (UC), Davis and the University of Barcelona has uncovered an enzyme inhibitor found to prevent and reverse the effects of diabetes in obese mice. In addition to discovering a potential form of treatment for the disease, scientists say the study has shone new light on healthy properties of fatty acids.

The researchers have shown the enzyme called soluble epoxide hydrolase (sEH) to be capable of reducing the symptoms of diabetes in mice by stabilizing metabolites in an omega-3 acid called DHA. Previously observed in the lab at UC Davis, the researchers say that the drug they are working on has either reduced or reversed diabetes-related ailments such as renal failure, hypertension, diabetic pain, hardening of the arteries and heart failure.

Now research conducted by Joan Clària, an associate professor at the Barcelona School of Medicine, takes things a little further. She reported the discovery that for mice that happen to have higher levels of certain fatty acids, the drug actually provided a cure for the disease.

"Our previous studies show the drug we are working on will reduce the symptoms of diabetes in mice by itself,” says Dr. Bruce Hammock, who runs the Hammock Laboratory of Pesticide Biotechnology at UC Davis. "But the excitement about Joan Clària’s work is that if the mice have a genetically increased level of omega-3 fatty acids, the drug offers prevention or cure in mice.”

Another UC Davis researcher, who is not involved in this study, says that the apparent link between stabilizing the metabolites in DHA and curing the symptoms of diabetes increases understanding of the impacts of omega-3 fatty acids on wellbeing.

“This exciting research brings mechanistic detail to understanding how omega-3 fatty acids in the diet exert important health effects,” said J. Bruce German, director of the UC Davis Foods for Health Institute, Department of Food Science and Technology.

The research was published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Source: UC Davis