Anti-Diabetic and Anti-Atherogenic Effects of Inhibiting Intestinal Fructose Absorption

Dr. Khosrow Adeli
Hospital for Sick Children

What if...?
The Novel and Exploratory Research Fund gives Canada's most brilliant researchers the opportunity to test imaginative new ideas for defeating diseases. 
Frederick Banting proved that sometimes you just have to follow your instincts. He had an idea about isolating part of the pancreas and, toiling in a Toronto lab in the long hot summer of 1921 with his assistant Charles Best, came up with insulin. Within a year of his discovery, diabetes ceased to be a death sentence for millions of people.
The Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada (HSFC) has always supported the kind of imaginative and innovative work that Banting and Best personified. That support has been formalized with the creation of HSFC's Novel and Exploratory Research Fund (NERF) to help some of our most accomplished medical minds follow well-informed hunches.
“We know these researchers are brilliant because our review committees have rated them as leaders in their fields,” says Linda Piazza, HSFC's Director of Research. “The idea is to give them a chance to develop an idea that – if it works – could change the world.” This one-year award will allow innovators to test out bold new ideas. 
Dr. Khosrow Adeli, a professor of clinical biochemistry at the University of Toronto and a division head at The Hospital for Sick Children, has an idea about how to prevent the body from absorbing fructose – the fruit-based sweetener widely used in prepared foods and drinks. 
Doctors believe that consuming too much fructose can lead to insulin resistance and trigger type 2 diabetes. Dr. Adeli theorizes that blocking the intestinal absorption of fructose could thwart insulin resistance and prevent obesity, higher levels of triglycerides (a type of fat found in the blood), higher levels of ‘bad’ cholesterol, and increased risk of coronary heart disease. He wants to test his theory by using a fructose analog – a similar, but not identical substance – to trick the intestine into ignoring the real stuff.
To the best of Dr. Adeli’s knowledge, this has not been tried before. If it works, it could lead to the development of food additives or pharmaceuticals to diminish potential damage from having too much fructose in our diets.