Hebrew University of Jerusalem scientists claim to have identified a potential target that would help in development of novel oral drugs to control blood glucose levels in diabetes patients.
Lead researcher Prof. Shlomo Sasson of the Hebrew University School of Pharmacy has identified a molecular mechanism that regulates glucose transport in skeletal muscles.
During the study, researchers found that high levels of the carbohydrate D-xylose increased the rate of glucose entry into skeletal muscle cells in a non-insulin-dependent manner.
They then used it as a prototype molecule for the planning and synthesis of chemical derivatives that may act as potential drugs to lower blood glucose in type 2 diabetic patients.
Some of these derivatives increased significantly the rate of glucose transport in skeletal muscles at very low concentrations.
This effect was not achieved by mimicking the classical pathway of insulin action, but by activating the enzyme AMP-activated protein kinase (AMPK).
When activated, this enzyme increases the rate of glucose transport in skeletal muscles in the absence of insulin.
Therefore, compounds that activate this enzyme can be effective in insulin resistant type 2 diabetic patients or in those that fail to respond to conventional drug therapy.
This makes AMPK an extremely attractive target in the development of novel anti-diabetic drugs.