Scientists Explain How Diabetes Drug Works

shutterstock_88515778Type 2 diabetes is a disease that affects millions of people worldwide. One of the more effective and popular medications in use to control the disease is the drug called metformin. While the said drug is known to be effective in managing a diabetic’s blood sugar levels, doctors have not been able to fully explain how and why it works. But the researchers from McMaster University have been able to discover how metformin works.

The extent of what doctors know regarding metformin is that it interacts with insulin in the body to work and that it cannot lower blood sugar on its own. Researchers from McMaster University

in Canada have discovered that the said drug works by reducing fat found in the liver. Details of the research are found in the latest issue of the journal Nature Medicine.

According to Greg Steinberg, associate professor in the Department of Medicine of the Michael G. DeGroote School of Medicine, “The key is that metformin doesn’t work to lower blood glucose by directly working on the glucose. It works on reducing harmful fat molecules in the liver, which then allows insulin to work better and lower blood sugar levels.”

“Fat is likely a key trigger for pre-diabetes, causing blood sugar to start going up because insulin can’t work as efficiently to stop sugar coming from the liver,” Steinberg further added.

The research team studied mice that had a genetic disruption to a single amino acid in two proteins called acetyl-CoA carboxylase or ACC. These proteins regulate fat production as well as the ability to burn fat. Mice found with the mutated proteins can develop signs of fatty liver and pre-diabetes even without the obvious signs of obesity.

When the researchers administered metformin to the mice controls with the mutated genes, the drug did not lower their blood sugar levels. This indicates that metformin does not work by directly reducing sugar metabolism. Instead, it works by reducing fat in the liver, which then allows insulin in the body to work better.

This discovery may help medical experts in finding combination therapies for diabetics for a more personalized approach. This will prove helpful for diabetics with the condition where metformin alone may not be enough to restore blood sugar levels to normal.

 

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