Discovery offers new approach for diabetes therapy

July 13th, 2010 - 3:18 pm ICT by ANI  

Washington, July 13 (ANI): Scientists have ‘cured’ laboratory mice of mild, diet-induced diabetes by stimulating the production of a particular enzyme.

According to researchers, the findings could offer a new approach to diabetes therapy, especially if a drug could be identified that would do the same thing, which in this case was accomplished with genetic manipulation.

Increased levels of this enzyme, called fatty acid elongase-5, restored normal function to diseased livers in mice, restored normal levels of blood glucose and insulin, and effectively corrected the risk factors incurred with diet-induced diabetes.

“This effect was fairly remarkable and not anticipated,” said Donald Jump at Oregon State University.

“It doesn’t provide a therapy yet, but could be fairly important if we can find a drug to raise levels of this enzyme.

“There are already some drugs on the market that do this to a point, and further research in the field would be merited,” he added.

The studies were done on a family of enzymes called “fatty acid elongases,” which have been known of for decades.

In research on diet-induced obesity and diabetes, enzyme conversion pathways were studied, and found that elongase-5 was often impaired in mice with elevated insulin levels and diet-induced obesity.

The scientists used an established system, based on a recombinant adenovirus, to import the gene responsible for production of elongase-5 into the livers of obese, diabetic mice.

When this ‘delivery system’ began to function and the mice produced higher levels of the enzyme, their diet-induced liver defects and elevated blood sugar disappeared.

“The use of a genetic delivery system such as this was functional, but it may not be a permanent solution,” Jump said.

“For human therapy, it would be better to find a drug that could accomplish the same thing, and that may be possible. There are already drugs on the market, such as some fibrate drugs, that induce higher levels of elongase-5 to some extent.”

The potential for raising levels of elongase-5 would be a new, specific and targeted approach to diabetes therapy, he said.

“These studies establish a link between fatty acid elongation and hepatic glucose and triglyceride metabolism,” the researchers said.

The study was published in the Journal of Lipid Research. (ANI)

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