An experimental type 2 diabetes drug can lower blood sugar levels and help weight loss in obese mice with the condition.
Scientists from Monash University in Australia injected the mice every day for a week with a protein they created, called IC7Fc.
IC7Fc targets the gp13 receptor, which is found on many cells in the human body and is known to affect metabolism.
By the end of the week, the mice lost weight, ate less and had lower blood sugar levels, the researchers found.
The weight loss came from reducing the body fat of the mice without affecting their muscle mass.
The scientists claim that no existing type 2 diabetes drug has the same benefits. They are now looking for funding for human trials.
An experimental type 2 diabetes drug has been promising in an animal study (stock)
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than 100 million adults in the US live with diabetes or pre-diabetes.
Prediabetes is defined as the blood sugar level of a person who is higher than normal but not high enough to be considered diabetes.
And in the UK, 3.8 million people have been diagnosed with diabetes, according to statistics from Diabetes UK.
In both countries, more than 90 percent of diabetics have type 2, which is associated with being overweight or obese.
Metformin is a go-to treatment for type 2 diabetes. It works by reducing the amount of sugar that the liver releases into the blood, and by improving the way the body responds to insulin.
However, it does not cause weight loss and many patients complain of nausea, vomiting, diarrhea and abdominal pain.
The anti-obesity drug orlistat is also available on the NHS for people who have not been able to lose weight through diet and exercise. It is approved for type 2 diabetics with a BMI of 28 or more.
WHAT ARE TYPE 2 DIABETES?
Type 2 diabetes is a condition in which the blood sugar level of a person becomes too high.
It is thought that more than 4 million people in the UK have some form of diabetes.
Type 2 diabetes is associated with being overweight and it is more likely that you will get it if it is in the family.
The condition means that the body does not respond well to insulin – the hormone that controls the uptake of sugar in the blood – and is unable to properly regulate blood glucose levels.
Excess fat in the liver increases the risk of developing type 2 diabetes, because the build-up makes it more difficult to control glucose levels and the body is also more resistant to insulin.
Weight loss is the key to reducing liver fat and getting symptoms under control.
Symptoms include fatigue, thirst, and frequent urination.
It can lead to more serious problems with nerves, vision and the heart.
Treatment usually involves changing your diet and lifestyle, but in more serious cases, medication may be needed.
Source: NHS Choices; Diabetes.co.uk
A BMI of 18.5-24.9 is considered as & # 39; ideal & # 39; while 25 to 29.9 is overweight and 30 or more obese.
Orlistat works by preventing about a third of the fat found in food from being absorbed by it in the stool.
Common side effects include urgent and often go to the toilet, as well as flatulence and abdominal pain.
The Australian scientists wanted to create a safe, effective alternative.
IC7Fc is made by combining two different signal proteins found in humans.
When injected into obese mice, the animals lost fat, ate less, and saw their blood sugar levels drop.
& # 39; Control & # 39; mice, which were obese and diabetic, received slightly less food and were injected with saline.
Although the controls lost fat, they also saw their muscle mass decrease.
If the benefits of IC7Fc also occur in humans, the elderly, in particular, can benefit from it, the scientists claim. This is because they already run the risk of reduced muscle mass.
The mice that received IC7Fc also had fewer fat deposits in their liver. Metformin has the same effect.
According to Diabetes.co.uk, non-alcoholic fatty liver is common in overweight or obese patients, including Type 2 diabetes. If left untreated, it can cause severe liver damage and even failure.
In a second part of the experiment, the safety of IC7Fc was tested in human cells in the laboratory and in monkeys. The drug caused no inflammation or an immune response, the study found.
The scientists claim that because of IC7F-containing proteins, it should be injected instead of swallowed. However, they said that only one injection per week would be needed.
& # 39; IC7Fc is a realistic next-generation biological agent for the treatment of type 2 diabetes, & they wrote.
The effect on muscle mass means that the drug can also benefit from muscle atrophy, which occurs when the muscles fail, the scientists added.
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