Scientists at Mayo Clinic Florida showed that transiently blocking insulin-degrading enzyme (IDE) is a promising new strategy for treating type 2 diabetes.
In type 2 diabetes, the body stops responding efficiently to insulin, a hormone that controls blood sugar.
To compensate for the insensitivity to insulin, many diabetes drugs work by boosting insulin levels; for example, by injecting more insulin or by increasing the amount of insulin secreted from the pancreas.
"Insulin levels in the blood reflect the balance between how much is secreted and how fast it is broken down," the study's lead researcher, Malcolm A. Leissring, Ph.D., from Mayo Clinic's Department of Neuroscience, said.
"Blocking the breakdown of insulin is simply an alternative method for achieving the same goal as many existing diabetes therapies," he stated.
The researchers tested this idea by studying mice in which insulin-degrading enzyme (IDE) was "knocked out," or deleted genetically.
The findings suggest that drugs that inhibit IDE could be useful in treating diabetes.
"The reason we studied IDE knockout mice was to help us understand whether IDE inhibitors would be useful for treating diabetes," Samer Abdul-Hay, Ph.D., first author on the study, said.
The findings have been published in the June 9 issue of PLoS ONE.