As well as working with human cells, where possible the FRAME Alternatives Laboratory works with human patients and volunteers to increase understanding of human disease. Quite obviously, data obtained from human subjects is infinitely more relevant than data from animal models.

Dietary studies in overweight and obese humans

In conjunction with Clinicians and Physiologists at Nottingham University, we have carried out a number of studies looking at the effects of different diet and exercise regimes on human volunteers. One of our most interesting projects has looked at the fat oxidation potential of volunteer subjects. We have identified that the ability to oxidise fat varies enormously within the human population and in a group of 700 overweight female
volunteers we examined the expression of ever y human gene in the adipose tissue of the highest and lowest fat oxidisers. Our results indicate that those individuals who are poor fat oxidisers appear to be very efficient at using carbohydrate as a fuel whilst those who are good at utilising fat are less able to burn glucose. Thus it appears that the ability to use carbohydrate as a fuel determines whether or not you burn fat effectively or not. This data has potentially very important implications for dietary advice; it is possible that if the fat oxidation capability of an individual is known, then the optimum level of fat in the diet could be calculated for that individual. FRAME wishes to continue these studies by recruiting a new population of volunteers who will be fed clearly defined diets containing different levels of fat and carbohydrate, and observing changes in weight, metabolism and gene expression. In order to ensure dietary compliance, FRAME is looking for a major food retailer to collaborate with to use their products and home delivery service to provide the diets.