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Note on Genes-physiology

Measurement at the edge

The ability to measure something accurately, reproducibly, and by a number of different laboratories is one of the most important steps to new knowledge. The story of irisin is an excellent example to this. First reported in 2012, it’s discovery was accompanied by an enticing story. A myokine hormone, released in response to exercise or other metabolic stimuli, had an impact on glucose homeostasis, but most strikingly, seemed to have a ‘browning’ effect on white fat. Browning white fat increases energy expenditure, which could reduce weight. This action, along with irisin’s effect on increasing glucose uptake and reducing gluconeogenesis, made it an attractive candidate for treating type 2 diabetes. However, as a review released by Nature today discusses, this research has been plagued by inconsistent studies, with some reports suggesting that it may only be a transcribed pseudogene. These inconsistencies derive from difficulty in measuring irisin, as assays continue to be developed. Without the ability to accurately measure irisin, and the ability to compare results from different labs, progress will remain slow. Measurements at the edge are difficult, but once they become established, the flow of information and knowledge will open up new areas of knowledge and investigation.

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