I seriously have the best job in the world. I get paid for being curious. And it is just as awesome as they show you on the telly! What they don’t show in movies and on TV however, is how much work actually go into everything and how time consuming it is. I won’t have too many days where I’ll be able to say “Ooh, so today I found out that”, but every now and then, all the lab work and all the analysing pays off and I’ll get to do a “Oooh, it looks like maybe there might be a slight difference between the control and the sample!” And that, guys and gals, is actually one of the best things ever.
What do I research though? The very short description is that I look at the effect of bacterial components on energy metabolism in human skeletal muscle cells. Hey, that’s even the title of my project. Aha..ha.. The reason for investigating that is in large because of the booming type 2 diabetes (T2D) epidemic all across the globe. T2D is the type of diabetes people often associate with lifestyle, where the lack of exercise and the increased food intake causes havoc with our bodies’ ability to utilise energy. According to the WHO, 422 million people suffered from diabetes in 2014, and this number is only increasing. Worryingly, an increasing number of younger people are also diagnosed with T2D.
T2D is however not as straightforward as only being due to eating too much and not moving enough. What we’re trying to find out is if the gut microbiota, which is the collection of bacteria that live in our intestines, play a role in the development of T2D. Specifically, we’re looking to see if the way skeletal muscle (the type of muscle you can voluntarily move) use energy, i.e. its energy metabolism, is affected by bacterial bits that have made it out of the gut and into the bloodstream. This in turn is of interest because the skeletal muscle is a major organ when it comes to both using, but also storing energy. In T2D, the hormone insulin, which in non-diabetics signals that we’ve eaten and need to start storing glucose in for example our muscles, has lost most, if not all of its effect. To figure out if the energy metabolism is affected, we take skeletal muscle cells and expose them to these bacterial components to see if the cells become diabetic, in a way..
So there you have the background for my project and in the next blog post I’ll be telling you about how I actually do my research. In the lab. Sciencing.
All the best,