Two drugs may help with type 2 diabetes

August 25, 2006|By Nicole Ostrow | Nicole Ostrow,Bloomberg News Service

Drugs for liver disease and a rare blood disorder may help treat the most common form of diabetes in overweight people, a study suggests.

The medicines, ursodiol, for the liver and gallbladder, and Buphenyl, which fights a sometimes-fatal genetic disorder, lowered blood sugar to normal levels in the cells of severely obese and insulin-resistant mice, researchers said.

More tests need to be done to show whether the same results appear in humans. If so, the findings may lead to better treatments, said Gokhan Hotamisligil, head of Harvard University's department of genetics and complex diseases, which ran the study. About 90 percent of 18 million Americans with type 2 diabetes are overweight or obese, health officials say.

"These compounds are fixing the problem that is at the core of the disease, rather than the symptoms of the disease," Hotamisligil said in a telephone interview. "This is very fertile grounds for thinking about new therapeutics."

The study appears today in the journal Science.

Researchers had previously determined that the stress of obesity on liver and fat cells can disrupt the glucose-lowering actions of insulin, and lead to diabetes. They also found a gene called JNK that interferes with insulin sensitivity.

The new study shows that ursodiol and Buphenyl, made by Medicis Pharmaceutical Corp., reduced so-called endoplasmic reticulum stress and prevented JNK activation in the mice.

Type 2 diabetes occurs when the body doesn't produce enough insulin.

Insulin takes the sugar from the blood into cells. When sugar builds up in the blood instead of going into cells, the cells can be starved for energy, and over time a person's eyes, kidneys and heart could be hurt.

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