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Obesity is one of the most prevalent diseases globally, leading to metabolic syndrome, type 2 diabetes and increased risk of cardiovascular disease. Obesity associated inflammation is widely regarded as one of the major factors driving insulin resistance and the onset of type 2 diabetes.It was previously unknown how fat communicated with the stem cells that reside in the bone marrow, which give rise to the blood cells that drive inflammation.

An international team of investigators, led by Associate Professor Andrew Murphy, discovered that fat from obese patients released a molecule called IL-1 that travelled to the bone marrow stem cells to instruct them to increase the production of inflammatory cells. Using a drug under clinical evaluation to block IL-1, the investigators found that the obesity-associated inflammation was prevented. They also found that weight loss resulted in a decrease in inflammatory cell production.

In 2015, this work was cited in the top ten metabolism discoveries in the past decade by the highly prestigious journal, Cell Metabolism.

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