Offering a promising strategy to treat people with Type-2 diabetes, researchers have found that shutting down a liver protein could reduce glucose production in the liver and lower blood sugar levels.
"We think this strategy could lead to more effective drugs for Type-2 diabetes," said principal investigator Brian Finck, associate professor of medicine at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis.
Conventional treatments for Type 2 diabetes focus on making the body more sensitive to insulin, the hormone that lowers blood sugar.
"A drug that shuts down glucose production has the potential to help millions of people affected by the most common form of diabetes," Finck noted.
For the study, the researchers worked with the US-based biopharmaceutical company Metabolic Solutions Development Co.
The company is involved in clinical trials that are evaluating the drug compound MSDC-0602 as a treatment for diabetes.
The new study demonstrated that the compound works, at least in part, by inhibiting a protein that is key to glucose production in the liver.
In experiments with mice, the research team cut sugar production in liver cells by inhibiting a key protein involved in transporting pyruvate, a building block of glucose, from the bloodstream into the energy factories of liver cells, called mitochondria.
In addition to diabetes, the researchers also think that interfering with pyruvate transport may help patients with nonalcoholic fatty liver disease, a condition common in people with obesity.
The research was published online in the journal Cell Metabolism.