Type 2 diabetes is a metabolic disorder that develops when the body becomes unable to process insulin correctly. Insulin is the hormone that is responsible for regulating the amount of sugar in our bloodstream. In the first stages of the disease, the body overproduces the hormone in an attempt to regulate the system. After a while the receptors will burn out and stop producing the insulin altogether.
People develop diabetes based on genetics, as well as lifestyle factors, that affect the way that their system functions. It is most common in those that are middle aged, or older, and medical practitioners believe that almost 1/3 of the population will develop type 2 diabetes due to poor eating habits and a lack of exercise. Medications currently used to treat diabetes, filter the excess glucose produced from the bloodstream. Top medical doctors, and nutritionists, believe that Type 2 diabetes is completely reversible, however, and scientists are trying to find an easy, reliable method of doing this.
A team of researchers from the University of California, have recently developed a drug which can restore insulin sensitivity in people with diabetes. It would be administered via a single pill taken daily, and works by inhibiting LMPTP (low molecular weight protein tyrosine phosphatase) which contributes to the reduction in cell sensitivity to insulin. Decreasing the amount of the enzyme in the body, causes the cells (especially those in the liver), to become receptive to insulin once again. This then restores the body’s ability to regulate blood sugar levels, ultimately reversing the condition.
The researchers used lab mice to conduct their experiment. The rodents were initially fed a high-fat diet, causing them to become obese and subsequently develop high blood glucose levels. After this they received a dose of the drug daily, and their insulin levels were successfully restored. Researchers did not notice any adverse side effects develop from the use of the medication. Further tests will still need to be conducted to ensure that the drug is completely safe for human use. The team, however, are confident that it will be a huge step in reversing diabetes by simply taking a pill.
The concept of reversing diabetes is not a new one, and has previously been achieved using a combination of drugs, a strict diet and a regular exercise regime. Scientists at Cornell University have also found that probiotic pills, containing live bacteria, can help reverse the effects of Type 2 diabetes by ‘rewiring’ the body. The probiotic pill was also tested on rodents, and managed to shift the control of the body’s blood sugar levels from the pancreas (which normally controls glucose levels within the body) to the upper intestine. By shifting where the blood sugar levels are controlled, scientists found that the animals’ insulin levels increased by up to 30%. They believe that a higher dose of this probiotic pill may become a cure for both Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes.