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Breakthrough drug treatment for type 2 diabetes restores insulin response

Kathleen Blanchard's picture
Diabetes reversal may be possible with novel antibody drug

A new drug is being developed that is a breakthrough for treating type 2 diabetes. Research led by scientists at the Karolinska Institutet have found a way to block signaling by a protein known as VEGF-B, which in turn helps cells in the body respond to insulin. The drug is already in development by the biopharmaceutical company CSL Limited.

The finding is considered a breakthrough for type 2 diabetes because it's an entirely new approach to treating the disease.

The drug used in the research and being developed CSL Limited is 2H10. The biopharmaceutical company helped fund the study that also involved a team of international scientists.

Obesity is a major risk factor for type 2 diabetes because it leads to insulin resistance. When the body no longer responds to insulin, blood sugar levels rise.

VEGF-B (vascular endothelial growth factor B), which was discovered in 1995, has been in scientist's radar as a possible treatment for diabetes and other metabolic disorders because of its role in carrying fatty acids through endothelial cells in blood vessels.

VEGF-B carries fat around the body and deposits it to be stored where it can cause metabolic disorders like diabetes, heart disease and other complications of metabolic syndrome.

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Professor Åke Sjöholm, consultant in diabetology at Stockholm South General Hospital said in a press release, "Existing treatments can cause many adverse reactions and their effects normally wear off. There is a desperate need for new treatment strategies for type II diabetes.”

In their experiments with mice and rats bred to develop the disease the researchers were able to prevent type 2 diabetes. They also found VEGF-B reversed existing diabetes.

Professor Ulf Eriksson of the Department of Medical Biochemistry and Biophysics at Karolinska Institutet said, "We discovered VEGF-B back in 1995, and since then the VEGF-B project has been a lengthy sojourn in the wilderness, but now we're making one important discovery after the other. In this present study we've shown that VEGF-B inhibition can be used to prevent and treat type II diabetes, and that this can be done with a drug candidate."

The new approach for preventing diabetes and reversing existing disease is of major importance, given statistics that diabetes is on the rise and currently affects an estimated 310 million people worldwide.

Diabetes is linked to high rates of mortality from complications. Treating the disease places a major burden on the healthcare system, which has also been a concern of public health experts.

The report, published in the journal Nature, includes 4 studies highlighting the ‘breakthrough’ type 2 diabetes treatment.

Nature, AOP 26 September 2012, doi: 10.1038/nature11464
“Targeting VEGF-B as a novel treatment for insulin resistance and type 2 diabetes”

Image credit:
CDC.gov. Public Image Health Library



Misleading headline - this is a drug candidate NOT a "treatment" - MAYBE in 5yrs or so...Maybe!