Injection of Protein to Stop Diabetes?

Researchers at the Salk Institute for Biological Studies have uncovered that the injection of a fibroblast growth factor protein has great therapeutic potential for the treatment of insulin resistance and type 2 diabetes. The discovery, published in Nature on Wednesday, could lead to a completely new generation of diabetic treatments.

Injecting insulin - soon to be obsolete? Source: flickr.com

Injecting insulin – soon to be obsolete? Source: flickr.com

Insulin is a hormone produced by the pancreas that is responsible for controlling the amount of glucose in the blood. Type 2 diabetes occurs when the body produces insufficient insulin, or the body’s cells stop reacting to insulin. Frequently brought on by obesity and inactivity, the condition has become increasingly prevalent over the past few decades and now presents a major public health issue.

Current medications for type 2 diabetes are often undermined by adverse side effects such as weight gain, bone loss, and congestive heart failure. New treatments that retain the same insulin-sensitizing potential but lose the side effects are therefore needed.

It was previously shown that mice lacking a certain fibroblast growth factor, a protein called FGF1, rapidly develop diabetes when fed a high-fat diet. Researchers therefore considered whether giving diabetic mice extra FGF1 could alleviate the symptoms of the disease. To explore this possibility, the team at the Salk Institute injected diabetic mice with doses of FGF1. They found that a single injection was enough to achieve normal blood glucose levels for more than two days.

The success of this single dose of FGF1 led to the investigation of the effects of serial injections. These mice showed a sustained lowering of blood glucose and also a marked improvement in insulin sensitivity, suggesting that FGF1 may be able to reverse insulin resistance. Over the time period tested, treatment with FGF1 did not lead to any of the aforementioned side effects associated with current insulin-sensitizing therapeutics. Hypoglycaemia, where the levels of glucose in the blood drop too low, was also avoided.

The mechanism of FGF1 is not fully understood and it will take time to fine-tune this protein into a useful therapeutic. However, this is certainly one of the biggest discoveries in diabetic treatment to date, and if eventually successful could significantly change the outlook for patients worldwide.

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Bethany Small

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1 Response

  1. Avatar Efren says:

    Hah gaaaaaeeeyy

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