In Australia, approximately 280 people develop diabetes daily with around 1.7 million currently diagnosed cases. With the potential for more than 100,000 new diagnoses occurring this year, the annual impact of diabetes costs around $14.6 billion. Diabetes can lead to a list of complications that all depend on the type; either type 1 or type 2. Type 1 is an autoimmune condition where the body’s own immune system attacks the cells of the pancreas responsible for the production of insulin; the hormone that regulates your blood sugar. Type 1 diabetes cannot be cured, the symptoms of which are quite sudden and accounts for approximately 10% of diabetes diagnoses; the other 90% of cases is due to Type 2 diabetes. Type 2 diabetes is a progressive condition where the body becomes resistant to the effects of insulin or the pancreas simply doesn’t produce enough. Type 2 is something that people can develop overtime due to particular lifestyle choices and also isn’t curable; yet.
Research conducted at the Institute for Allergy and Immunology and San Diego School of medicine has been able to reverse the prevalence of type 2 diabetes in mice models using an sweet little pill administered orally. Not only did the drug reverse the signs of the disease within mice diagnosed but also protected undiagnosed mice from high fat induced diabetes without negatively affecting body weight. Usually, type 2 diabetes results in the receptors that respond to the presence of insulin in the bloodstream become insensitive to the hormone. The drug targets an enzyme called a low molecular weight protein tyrosine phosphate (LMPTP) which is responsible for the receptors becoming less responsive to insulin. Inhibiting the enzymes activity results in sensitivity being restored. Enzyme inhibitors work by binding to a particular part or ‘site’ on the enzyme. In doing so, the enzymes functionality is inhibited by filling the ‘site’ or by changing the same of the enzyme so it can’t do its job. Though the role of this enzyme has been know for a while, the family of enzymes have other roles in the body and inhibiting it would have adverse effects on other bodily functions. The benefit of this new drug is how exclusively it inhibits this single enzyme instead of all similar enzymes and their activity.
More beneficial news of the LMPTP inhibitor is that it could be modified to prevent heart failure and growth of tumors due to the enzymes known activity within this disease; leading to more therapeutic options. The researchers are currently looking for funding from pharmaceutical companies to aid in the drug development and it is predicted that trials will begin within the next 2 years. Though this is still some time away, there are things to people can do to minimise their risk of type 2 diabetes; especially if there is a genetic factor involved. In the meantime, try to maintain a healthy weight, exercise regularly, take steps to manage your diet, focus and your blood pressure and cholesterol levels and don’t smoke.