Getting blood sugar back to normal may sometimes feel like a stick in the spokes of diabetes care, but one study unveiled a possible way for people who suffer from type 2 diabetes to manage blood sugar. Scientists discovered a novel protein-based treatment that restores blood-sugar levels to normal in diabetic mice.
"We had no idea that this molecule would have this effect," Michael Downes, co-author of the study and a diabetes researcher at the Salk Institute for Biological Studies in California, told The Verge. "But it appears that the molecule restores insulin sensitivity in diabetic mice."
Since the results are preliminary, scientists are still trying to figure out whether the treatment would work on humans.
For the study, which was published in the international weekly science journal Nature, Downes and his colleagues injected mice with a protein called fibroblast growth factor 1 (FGF1). This procedure enabled the animals to use insulin normally for about seven days - with no side effects such as weight gain and bone loss that are typically associated with other drugs that restore insulin function. Downes reported that repeated injections were effective for nearly a month.
However, scientists remain unsure how FGF1 was able to achieve the result, and they're working to shed light on the mechanism underlying the treatment.
Marc Prentki, director of the Montreal Diabetes Research Center, explained that the therapy might simply help reduce hunger. A noteworthy effect of FGF1 is that it cuts down appetite.
"The findings described in the article are very interesting and valuable," Carles Lerin Martinez, a diabetes researcher at Hospital Sant Joan de Déu in Barcelona, commented to The Verge. "Much effort is being devoted to finding novel strategies to treat type 2 diabetes, and insulin-sensitizers hold big promise."
Scientists agree that more diabetes research is needed to understand the full benefits and drawbacks of FGF1.