A newly discovered protein developed by the liver could potentially revolutionize care for type 2 diabetes, which helps to regulate blood sugar levels.
Our study , published today in Science Translational Medicine, found that the injection into diabetic mice of this protein, called SMOC1, enabled them to regulate their blood glucose much better.
We have also developed a long-lasting form of SMOC1 which will only need to be injected once a week if it works the same way in humans as in mice, instead of being administered daily as is the case for many current diabetes medications.
Our findings in mice indicate SMOC1 is more effective in enhancing blood glucose regulation and insulin sensitivity than metformin, the main frontline treatment for type 2 diabetes.
Most of us have kind 2 diabetes friends , family members or colleagues.
Type 2 diabetes is also strongly related to obesity, and with the recent rise in the incidence of obesity (more than two billion people worldwide are overweight or obese), 578 million adults are expected to have diabetes by 2030, and 700 million by 2045.
Diabetes people have many problems that can affect their quality of life and decrease their life expectancy. A big issue for people with type 2 diabetes is high blood glucose which can cause many severe health issues if left unchecked and untreated:
People with diabetes are up to four times more vulnerable to heart disease and stroke
They are three times more likely to suffer from renal insufficiency
Amputations are 15 times more common in diabetes sufferers
Diabetes is Australia's number one cause of preventable blindness.
Reducing blood glucose levels will help thwart this subtle and underrated killer until any evidence of diabetes damage is apparent.
Drugs commonly used for diabetes are not good enough
The first treatment lines for diabetes are a balanced diet and exercise. But this does have limited efficacy in reducing blood glucose, particularly as the disease progresses. Thus, the use of drugs to regulate blood glucose eventually becomes important.
Usually later in disease development, insulin is used to manage type 2 diabetes, after other anti-hyperglycemic drugs become less effective in controlling blood glucose levels.
A new way to regulate blood glucose could be provided by our discovery of SMOC1, which is naturally created by the liver and released into the blood when glucose levels are elevated. We expect that SMOC1 may be successful in people with type 2 diabetes, whether advanced or newly diagnosed, based on our animal studies and experiments using human hepatic cells.
This will help to reduce the public health burden of the disease given the incidence of type 2 diabetes, with patients hopefully having less hospital visits and shorter hospital stays. In humans, we will need to test SMOC1 and seek the pharmaceutical industry's support in developing this possible new treatment.
With the right funding, SMOC1 could pass into clinical trials within six to eight years, helping us get closer to reducing the Type 2 diabetes and obesity overall global public health toll.
This article first appeared on https://theconversation.com