Meanwhile, Houseknecht plans additional animal studies to determine how CLA regulates glucose metabolism. "Our next step will be to see if the weight loss is real and sustained over time, and the second thing will be investigating whether CLA just delays the onset of diabetes for a time or if it actually prevents it from ever occurring. We also want to really nail down the effects on the whole body," Houseknecht says. "We really have a lot to learn about this compound. For one thing, we have not optimized the dose. We picked a dose that is effective in fighting cancer, and started there."
In addition to these projects, scientists in other disciplines already are working to take advantage of CLA's potentially beneficial effects. Researchers in the Purdue Department of Animal Sciences are looking at feeding CLA to hogs to see if that increases the levels of CLA in pork.
"If we can do this, and if higher doses of CLA are safe, we'll have a value-added pork chop that could help fight cancer and diabetes," Houseknecht says.