Single-shot injection could improve blood sugar levels without uncomfortable side effects

A study on mice with diet-induced diabetes suggests there may be a way to create a single-shot injection that improves blood sugar control in people with type 2 diabetes – without uncomfortable side effects.

Researchers from the Salk Institute for Biological Studies found that mice treated with the protein FGF1 helped to restore blood sugar levels to a healthy range for more than two days. Moreover, the injection didn't result in side effects that many diabetes treatments cause.

Targeting the underlying cause

According to Ronald M. Evans, co-author of the study and director of Salk's Gene Expression Laboratory, the new treatment didn't just help stabilize blood sugar, but it also helped to reverse insulin sensitivity.

"Controlling glucose is a dominant problem in our society," said Evans. "And FGF1 offers a new method to control glucose in a powerful and unexpected way."

A few years ago, Evans and his team discovered that FGF1 helped the body respond to insulin. They found that mice who lacked this growth factor developed diabetes when placed on a high-fat diet. This made them curious as to whether or not FGF1 injections could affect diabetes symptoms.

"Many previous studies that injected FGF1 showed no effect on healthy mice," says Michael Downes, co-author of the study. "However, when we injected it into a diabetic mouse, we saw a dramatic improvement in glucose."

According to Salk postdoctoral research fellow Jae Myoung Suh, FGF1 may lead to a more "normal" insulin response because it is metabolized quickly and targets specific cells.

The next step, according to Evans, is to fine-tune the protein to develop a therapeutic drug for humans.

"We want to move this to people by developing a new generation of FGF1 variants that solely affect glucose and not cell growth," Evans said. "If we can find the perfect variation, I think we will have on our hands a very new, very effective tool for glucose control."

Source: Nature

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