Diabetes sufferers might soon be able to take pills to treat their condition, rather than inject themselves with insulin, following ground-breaking research from Australian scientists.
The research led by the University of Adelaide is testing safer and more effective drugs to treat type-II diabetes which will reduce side-effects and insulin injections.
Two studies published in the Journal of Medicinal Chemistry and BBA-General Subjection on Friday found that two new drugs could be more efficient in reducing blood sugar.
Successfully developing new treatments for type-II diabetes would be considered a major health coup, with insulin injections often proving unsafe and ineffective.
The two new drugs work by targeting a protein receptor known as PPARgamma found in fat tissue throughout the body to lower blood sugar by increasing sensitivity to insulin and changing the metabolism of fat and sugar.
The first study, undertaken in partnership with The Scripps Research Institute in the U.S., described 14 versions of a drug which worked by partially activating PPARgamma, an outcome which resulted in fewer side effects than full activation.
The second study, in collaboration with South Australia’s Flinders University, used X-ray crystallography to demonstrate how a drug, rivoglitazone (troglitazone), binds with the PPARgamma receptor.
Rivoglitazone fully activates PPARgamma but produced fewer side effects than other drugs that activate the same way.
Type-II diabetes is characterised by a resistance to insulin and subsequent high blood sugar, usually resulting from lifestyle factors like poor diet and lack of exercise.
John Bruning from the University’s School of Biological Sciences and Institute for Photonics and Advanced Sensing said developing safer and more efficient drugs is essential.
“Prevalence of type two diabetes in Australia alone has more than tripled since 1990, with an estimated cost of six billion AU dollars (4.5 billion U.S. dollars) a year,” he said in a media release on Friday.
Bruning said injecting insulin is problematic, and it is “highly desirable’’ for people to come off the injections as it’s difficult to get the levels right.