Insulin resistance

A new drug shown to help mice models of type 2 diabetes achieve normal blood glucose levels could one day have similar effects in humans.

Scientists at the University of California, San Diego (UCSD) found this drug, a small-molecule inhibitor which affects insulin signalling, could help the body to restore insulin sensitivity.

“This could lead to a new therapeutic strategy for treating type 2 diabetes,” said lead author Stephanie Stanford, Division of Cellular Biology, La Jolla Institute for Allergy and Immunology, La Jolla, UCSD.

“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.”

The oral drug is believed to reawaken insulin receptors, particularly in the liver, which could prevent people with type 2 diabetes from ending up on insulin injections.

Specifically, it works by targeting an enzyme called low molecular weight protein tyrosine phosphatase (LMPTP). Researchers believe LMPTP is a significant factor within the development of insulin resistance and obesity.

In this new study, the drug was administered to mice which had developed type 2 diabetes after eating a high-calorie diet, which made them obese.

They found that the new drug blocked the action of the LMPTP enzyme and lowered the blood sugar levels of the mice.

Significantly, no side effects were observed, and the researchers are now planning trials to assess the efficacy of the drug in humans.

“Our compound is very specific for the target, and we do not see any side effects after treatment in mice for a month, but the next step is to rigorously establish if it’s safe for use in clinical trials,” said Stanford.

“The next step towards the clinic is to understand whether the treatment will be safe for people.”

The findings appear online in the journal Nature.