Type 2 diabetes in cats a near purr-fect match to human version
How humans with Type 2 diabetes could help cats with the same condition
This has possible implications not only for the health of domestic cats but also human medicine.
Amy Warren is a veterinary pathologist at the University of Calgary. As part of a larger research project in partnership with the Western College of Veterinary Medicine in Saskatoon, she is trying to identify cats with Type 2 diabetes to determine what is causing the disease on the molecular level. Her research uses tissues from dead cats that were donated to veterinary research posthumously.
Warren says in cats, as in humans, Type 2 diabetes is associated with age and weight gain. "Clinically they present the same way."
People and cats with Type 2 diabetes have a decreased number of cells producing insulin compared to those without diabetes. Without insulin, blood sugar isn't regulated.
Human treatment for cats?
Warren says the other similarity has to do with the pancreas. The researchers need to take a closer look to learn how similar.
"They both produce a similar protein that predisposes them to producing the amyloid. But just because it looks the same under the microscope, there might be a really different way at the molecular level that it's producing this same picture. And so we make a lot of assumptions just because it looks the same, then therefore it's going to be the same," Warren says.
Drugs work on a molecular level. So, if Type 2 diabetes in cats is the same as humans on a molecular level, that means different types of treatments we use for people could also be used for cats.
Chantal McMillan is another University of Calgary veterinarian involved in the research. She specializes in small animal medicine. McMillan says if you have enough similarities between two species, it's called a "translational model." And this research could give light on whether or not cats with Type 2 diabetes can serve as a model for people.
"They've been proposed that they could serve as a good model for human Type 2 diabetes, so potentially enhancing the research that's undergone in human diabetes," McMillan says.
Benefits in medical research
Warren says comparisons like these between different species are part of a growing trend in medical research: "So you're sort of making that extrapolation from animals into people, but also from people, which is what we're doing, back into animals and so helping human medicine, but also at the same time helping veterinary medicine as well."