A new enzyme discovered by a Montreal research team could be key to fighting obesity and Type 2 diabetes.

The enzyme, glycerol 3-phosphate phosphatase (G3PP), was discovered by researchers at the Université de Montréal Hospital Research Centre and the findings were published Monday in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

"It's a very exciting discovery in terms of metabolism, cardiovascular disease at large, diabetes and obesity," said Dr. Marc Prentki, who led the research along with his colleague, Dr. Murthy Madiraju.

G3PP is a naturally occurring enzyme that controls glucose and removes excess sugar from cells. In doing so, it protects insulin-producing beta cells in the pancreas and various organs from damage caused by high glucose levels.

"A major problem in our modern society is that people in general ingest too many calories compared to what they expend," said Prentki.


Dr. Marc Prentki led the research team with colleague Dr. Murthy Madiraju. (CBC)

This imbalance produces glucose levels that are too high for the body and can lead to the progressive deterioration of various organs.

Obesity and Type 2 diabetes are some of the wide-ranging health problems caused by excess glucose.

"Once you have diabetes, this is devastating for many organs," Prentki said, pointing to its effect on the eyes and kidneys as examples.

The discovery of G3PP is only the first step in unlocking its benefits for patients.

The development of medication to activate the enzyme is the next step — one that could take years.