Scientists demonstrate promising new diabetes treatment

Researchers have demonstrated a promising new diabetes treatment that could one day be used to prevent type 2 diabetes from occurring.

Using an experimental chemical compound, a team of scientists from the Scripps Research Institute in the US have demonstrated an effective treatment for type 2 diabetes that may one day prevent the condition from presenting at all.

A paper published in Nature Communications outlines how using an experimental compound known as IXA4 on obese mice activates natural signalling pathways which protect the body from metabolic changes that would normally lead to type 2 diabetes.

“We were able to activate this pathway in both the liver and the pancreas with this one compound, and that added up to a significant overall improvement in metabolic health of obese animals,” says study co-author Professor Luke Wiseman.

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After just eight weeks, the treated mice had improved glucose metabolism and insulin activity, lower fat build-up and inflammation in the liver, and no loss of insulin-producing cells in the pancreas compared to untreated obese mice.

According to the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) there are around one million Australians currently living with type 2 diabetes and the disease contributes to over 16,000 deaths annually.

Type 2 diabetes is the most common form of the disease, and usually develops later in life than type 1. Type 2 diabetes is a chronic condition marked by high levels of glucose in the blood caused by the patient’s body not producing enough insulin and/or their body not using it effectively.

Diabetes is associated with myriad complications which affect the feet, eyes, kidneys and heart. Nerve damage in the lower limbs affects around 13 per cent of Australians with diabetes and diabetic retinopathy occurs in over 15 per cent of Australians with diabetes. Diabetes is now the leading cause of end-stage kidney disease.

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Genetics do play a role in the development of type 2 diabetes but the disease is more often associated with unhealthy habits including physical inactivity, poor diet, being overweight or obese, and smoking.

Currently, type 2 diabetes can be managed with changes to diet and exercise, oral glucose-lowering medications, non-insulin injectable glucose-lowering medications, insulin injections, or a combination of these methods.

The research team hopes the IXA4 treatment can become a regular part of type 2 diabetes prevention and treatment.

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IXA4 can reach only a limited set of tissues including the liver and pancreas, and so the team is now developing other compounds that can be absorbed by a broader range of cells – including fat cells.

“We’re also continuing to work with IXA4 as a potential treatment for other metabolic disorders such as fatty liver disease,” says research co-author Professor Enrique Saez.

Would you consider taking this compound to treat your diabetes? Or would you need to see more evidence first? Let us know in the comments section below.

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Written by Brad Lockyer

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