PULLMAN, Wash., Feb. 17 (UPI) -- Researchers are beginning to study grizzly bears and their food and fat processes in an effort to find a way to combat obesity.
Dr. Kevin Corbit, a scientist at drug-making corporation Amgen Inc., is studying grizzly bears to find out how their bodies manage obesity in order to create new weight-loss medication to widen the options beyond the three FDA approved drugs and without the side effects of the current medications. For his research, Corbit travels to Washington State University, which has the only facility in the world with adult grizzlies for research.
In preparation for hibernation, grizzlies gorge on food and gain about 100 pounds or more, causing their cholesterol and blood pressure to jump. Despite these usually health-harming conditions, their arteries don't clog and they don't become diabetic, unlike humans.
The reason is that bears, unlike humans, can control their insulin levels. While preparing for hibernation, the bears are more sensitive to insulin and when hibernating, they shut their insulin response off entirely. This allows them to safely nourish from the food they stored before hibernation.
Corbit and his fellow researchers are studying the bears' blood, fat deposits, and heart rates to find what allows the bears to do this. He hopes to create a drug that will give humans the ability to not suffer the health problems of obesity, and lose large amounts of weight without consequences.