humanOS Radio
#088 - Avocatin B and Obesity - Paul Spagnuolo
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#088 - Avocatin B and Obesity - Paul Spagnuolo

On this episode of humanOS Radio, Dan speaks with Paul Spagnuolo. Dr. Spagnuolo has a PhD in Applied Health Sciences from the University of Waterloo, and is currently a Professor at the Department of Food Science at the University of Guelph in Ontario Canada.

His lab has been focused on identifying and developing nutraceuticals as novel therapeutic agents, and figuring out the molecular and cellular mechanisms through which these food-derived bioactive compounds influence cell biology. To that end, the Spagnuolo lab has created a unique, in-house nutraceutical library that is conducive for high-throughput screening. This is useful because it allows the lab to efficiently search for compounds with potent and selective toxicity against cancer cells.

When screening this natural health product library for potential therapeutics, they discovered avocatin B, a mixture of polyhydroxylated fatty alcohols that is found exclusively in avocados. Avocatin B is a potent inhibitor of fatty acid oxidation (FAO), which makes it a promising candidate as a drug to block or delay some of the cellular processes that lead to insulin resistance and diabetes. In theory, reducing FAO in skeletal muscle and in pancreatic beta cells would force cells to burn glucose instead of fatty acids. This boost in glucose oxidation would be expected to lower blood sugar levels and restore insulin sensitivity.

But of course, the only way to know whether it actually works is to put it to the test.

Paul and his team wanted to explore whether this avocado compound could indeed help with metabolic syndrome. To that end, they recently performed a series of experiments testing avocatin B in rodent models of obesity and insulin resistance, as well as a randomized controlled clinical trial in humans. To learn what they found, check out the interview!

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