In a new study, an experimental oral drug successfully lowered blood sugar levels and inflammation in mice with Type 2 diabetes.
The finding raises hopes that someday the drug could be added to the arsenal of drugs used by millions of people with this disease, according to new research.
The drug consists of a synthetic molecule that stops the biological activity of a protein called macrophage migration inhibitory factor, or MIF.
This protein is implicated in a number of diseases because it is associated with the production of inflammation in the body. The researchers first determined that mice that have been genetically engineered not to carry the MIF protein are less likely to develop symptoms of Type 2 diabetes.
This finding suggested that MIF indeed has a role in at least two hallmarks of diabetes: impaired blood sugar control and the presence of other inflammatory proteins.
The scientists then treated diabetic mice with the investigational drug and found that most animals showed lower blood sugar levels and reduced inflammatory proteins in their blood when compared to untreated mice with Type 2 diabetes.
"We also found that if we stopped administering the drug, then the blood sugar level would go up," said Abhay Satoskar, associate professor of pathology at Ohio State University and senior author of the study.
"This does not present a cure for diabetes, but we think, if it is approved in humans, that it has potential to become an oral drug taken for the long term to control a very common symptom of the disease."
The study appears online and is scheduled for later print publication in the Journal of the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology.