Injection-free treatment for diabetes patients?

Armen Hareyan's picture
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A compound found in garlic is the basis of a potential orally-available drug candidate for types 1 and 2 diabetes.

Diabetes incidence is increasing worldwide, and there is a continuing need to develop effective treatments. Exisiting treatments involve either injection with insulin (primarily for sufferers of type 1 diabetes), or treatment with drugs (for type 2 diabetes). However, says Hiromu Sakurai, of the Suzuka University of Medical Science, Japan, neither method is ideal, as they involve frequent injections, and the drugs have undesirable side-effects.

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In earlier work, Sakurai's group had shown that a complex of vanadium and allixin, a compound found in garlic, lowered blood glucose levels in mouse models of both types 1 and 2 diabetes and that the effect was maintained for type 2 model mice given the complex orally. In its latest study the team found that the orally administered complex also lowered glucose levels in type 1 model mice, offering hope for an injection-free treatment for people with type 1 diabetes.

The new study looked primarily at how the allixin complex works. By examining the effects of the complex on genes affected by diabetes, the researchers found that it activates not only the insulin signalling cascade, which regulates glucose metabolism, but also an enzyme that helps cells to absorb glucose.

John McNeill is a professor emeritus in the division of pharmacology and toxicology at the University of British Columbia, Vancouver, Canada. He says that although other vanadium compounds have shown promise for the treatment of diabetes, this investigation is extensive and 'adds significant information to our understanding of how vanadium compounds can affect both carbohydrate and lipid metabolism.'

The researchers say that the allixin and similar complexes could be good candidates for treating both type 1 and type 2 diabetes. Future work, says Sakurai, will be aimed towards clinical trials of their complexes in human diabetes patients.

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