Of Mice, Then Men: A New Cure for Type- 2 Diabetes on the Way?

T2D Diabetes 369 views

Research data from mouse studies show promise for a daily pill “cure” for obesity-caused type-2 diabetes—but with more clinical and human trials in the offing, not quite yet.

Of Mice, Then Men: A New Cure for Type- 2 Diabetes on the Way?

Advances in diabetes treatment have been little short of miraculous. Beyond the apps and the high-tech gizmos to deal with errant blood glucose, there have been advances in the medicines themselves, for which people with type-2 diabetes have clearly benefitted.

A “cure” for obesity-related type-2 diabetes, on the other hand, has remained an elusive, pre-pilgrimage Holy Grail. But it’s not dissimilar to the idea of a cure for cancer, the hope of American Presidents for as long as most of us have been arrived. Imagine the “on my watch,…” It could mean the end of term limits as well as of cancer.

But there have been suggestions—and more than suggestions—that cures are available for some kinds of cancer, if as yet at daunting if not prohibitive prices. And now researchers at the University of California, San Diego, have made a significant step toward curing—reversing, not just preventing—type-2 diabetes. And the cure would be one daily pill.

The Study, or We Love Those Mouses, Yes We Do

A research team at the University of California, San Diego, headed by Stephanie Stanford, is working toward a drug that would restore insulin sensitivity in people with type-2 diabetes (T2D). In people with T2D, the body’s ability to respond to insulin, the hormone that regulates blood sugar, has been impaired.

The drug the Stanford team has produced, and tested on mice, aims to restore that “sensitivity” to insulin’s prompt. Previous medications to reduce excess blood sugar have not gone the extra step, that is, to restore the body’s capacity to respond appropriately to the “signal” insulin gives it.

The drug the team has created and continues to study works on low molecular weight protein tyrosine phosphatase (LMPTP), thought to contribute to reduced cell sensitivity to insulin. By inhibiting, or checking, the activity of the enzyme, the drug “reawakens” [the word used in the report in New Scientist] insulin receptors on the surface of cells, particularly in the liver.

It is those cells that, prior to the onset of type-2 diabetes, absorb excess sugar from the blood when they “detect” insulin. The drug under study re-empowers those cells to reduce blood glucose.

The study involved inducing obesity in mice through a high-fat diet, promoting high blood-glucose levels. Administered daily, by mouth, the drug restored insulin sensitivity in the mice without yielding negative side effects.

Further clinical testing leading to controlled human trials are in the offing. Stanford is hopeful that they will yield “a new therapeutic strategy for treating type-2 diabetes.”

How the study is being received

Emily Burns, of the UK charity Diabetes UK, welcomed the drug under study for the fundamental reason that “we don’t have anything that can overcome insulin resistance…. “If this new drug works as described, it could be used to reverse insulin resistance, but we need to know first if it does that safely in people.”

In the report in New Scientist, Daniel Drucker, of the Lunenfeld-Tanenbaum Research Institute in Toronto, Canada, commented that the enzyme LMPTP had been the focus of scientific efforts to combat type-2 diabetes for a long time. Prior efforts, focused on blocking another enzyme, tyrosine phosphatase, produced adverse side effects.

Drucker commented, “The elegant studies here provide proof of concept that targeting LMPTP in the liver improves glucose control and liver insulin signalling in animals.”

Sources/Reading:

https://www.nature.com/articles/nchembio.2344 (pay-walled)

https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/07/140716131541.htm?utm_medium=cpc&utm_campaign=ScienceDaily_TMD_1&utm_source=TMD

https://www.newscientist.com/article/2125924-diabetes-drug-could-be-the-first-to-reverse-the-disease/

https://futurism.com/a-new-drug-may-be-able-to-completely-reverse-diabetes/ (overview article with references to technical research studies)

http://www.iflscience.com/health-and-medicine/drug-appears-eliminate-type-2-diabetes-first-time/

 

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