For those unaware, diabetes is a condition relating to the body’s inability to shuttle blood glucose (sugar) into cells. Too high or too low blood sugar for individuals with diabetes can lead to numerous complications such as nerve damage, blindness, coma and even death in extreme cases. Therefore those diagnosed always have to manage their blood glucose with great precision. In type 1 diabetes or extreme cases of type 2 individuals have to utilise hand held blood glucose monitors in order to assess their blood glucose throughout the day. Typically individuals will manage their condition using medication such as metformin, however some will be required to inject insulin to lower their blood glucose, or in cases of hypoglycaemia (low blood glucose) they will be required to inject glucagon.
The misinterpretation of results or in when individuals make a mistake in their actions leading to hyperglycaemia (high blood glucose) or hypoglycaemia (low blood glucose) can have huge implications on their health. With increasing prevalence of diabetes researchers are constantly looking to advance medications and technologies in order to optimise blood glucose management.
Recently there has been a huge step forward in injected medication used to control blood sugar. A paper recently published in the journal ‘Nature’ (Suh et al, 2014) has outlined how scientists injected a protein referred to as FGF1 into mice that had type 2 diabetes. The scientists found that not only did injection of the protein lower blood glucose to recommended levels, but it also sustained those levels for an extremely long duration of time.
However here’s the really exciting part for all individuals diagnosed with diabetes… Usually if an individual injects too much insulin in an attempt to reduce blood sugar they go into a hypoglycaemic state which can cause numerous health problems, however with injection of FGF1 this did not occur. Injection of FGF1 displayed a dose response relationship (the more you inject the lower the blood sugar) up until recommended levels at which point blood glucose stabilised for an extended period of time.
Such a development provides huge potential for an increase in safety in individuals diagnosed with diabetes. It has the potential to significantly reduce risk of hypoglycaemia.
Although this is extremely exciting, let’s not get carried away just yet. The results have not been replicated in human populations as yet, but who knows what the future holds!
Jack Barton (Researcher, Rescon Ltd)
Jae Myoung Suh, Johan W. Jonker, Maryam Ahmadian, Regina Goetz, Denise Lackey, Olivia Osborn, Zhifeng Huang, Weilin Liu, Eiji Yoshihara, Theo H. van Dijk, Rick Havinga, Weiwei Fan, Yun-Qiang Yin, Ruth T. Yu, Christopher Liddle, Annette R. Atkins, Jerrold M. Olefsky, Moosa Mohammadi, Michael Downes, Ronald M. Evans. Endocrinization of FGF1 produces a neomorphic and potent insulin sensitizer. Nature, 2014; DOI: 10.1038/nature13540