Could a pill for parasites cure type 2 diabetes?
Scientists are working on a way to attack type 2 diabetes to reverse it with a safe and already approved medication currently used to get rid of parasites. Could the pill work in humans as well as it did in mice. If so, it could mean diabetes could be "cured".
Researchers have discovered a potential new way o tackle type 2 diabetes with an anti-parasite drug that rather than treating just glucose levels can help the body become more sensitive to the body's natural insulin production.
Drug corrects cause of type 2 diabetes
Rutgers University researchers have discovered that a modified form of the anti-parasite drug niclosamide could help treat the cause and not just symptoms of type 2 diabetes.
Victor Shengkan Jin, an associate professor of pharmacology at Rutgers Robert Wood Johnson Medical School led the study that is published online by the journal Nature Medicine.
Type 2 diabetics are either unable to use insulin properly even when the body is manufacturing proper amounts or not enough insulin is produced.
Jin explains excess fat in the liver cells and muscle makes the body unable to use glucose properly. Blood sugar normally enters cells where it is used for fuel. When insulin is unused it degrades and glucose remains in the bloodstream. Blood sugar also circulates to damage organs instead of being pulled into cells when there is no longer enough of the hormone being produced.
Safely burning liver fat improves insulin effect
Removing fat from the liver of mice could treat type 2 diabetes. The researchers used niclosamide ethanolamine salt (NEN), a safe and effective way to "burn" liver fat that they found improved the animal's ability to use insulin.
Jin said in a press release that NEN acts like car at full throttle that isn't moving.
“The cell is like a car and the mitochondria [the cell's energy source] are the engine,” Jin explains in a press release.. “What we’re doing inside cells is like putting the car’s transmission into neutral by uncoupling it from the transmission."
Eliminating liver fat allows glucose to get into cells.
One way to to that in humans is with gastric bypass surgery Jin points out but it only be performed on severely obese people. He also adds the procedure carries significant risk and may not be an option for many.
Additionally, you don't have to be obese to have fat in the liver and muscle tissue that contributes to insulin resistance and ultimately diabetes.
Diabetes rates are on the rise, making it important to find a way to treat the cause, Jin says. Past estimates suggest type 2 diabetes could increase to one in 10 people by the year 2030.
The medication used is also safe and is already approved by the FDA. “We went to the literature and found an approved drug that does in parasitic worms what we wanted to do in liver cells. The modified form of the medication, although itself is not a drug used in humans, has an excellent safety profile in other mammals – so very likely it would have a good safety profile in humans too," Jin said.
Jin said it isn't yet certain that getting rid of fat in the liver and muscle cells could reverse type 2 diabetes in humans, says so far the results are encouraging. If the anti-parasite pill works as well in humans as it has in mice it could mean a "cure" for diabetes.
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