December 18, 2011

Balancing with an antibody may help treat type 2 diabetes

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Researchers in California are investigating the benefits of a growth factor protein, FGF21, for the effects it has in controlling blood glucose. However human studies have revealed FGF21 levels are elevated by obesity and type 2 diabetes. Would balancing this protein with an antibody be a new class of drug for treating type 2 diabetes?

One of the researchers commented on the effects of treatment with FGF21 in lab animals. Junichiro Sonoda, said “the animals lose weight, and cholesterol, which increases cardiovascular risk, now goes down. And there’s a good cholesterol called HDL, which level goes up”. The right amount of FGF21 proves to be effective in controlling conditions that may lead to or exacerbate type 2 diabetes.

The positive effects of FGF21 that were seen in lab animals were not scuuessfully translated into human subjects. The puzzling fact is that FGF21 does not last longer than a few hours in humans. So researchers took this to the drawing board and wondered what would happen if they developed an antibody for FGF21.  Would this extend the life of the naturally-occurring FGF21? This scientific marvel was able to elongate the duration of FGF21 for nearly 40 days.

This research may prevail in a new class of treatments for diabetes. The California biotechnology company, Genentech, is currently developing this treatment with the help of Junichiro Sonoda.

Let’s reflect on beautiful words from Lara Croft, Tomb Raider: Nature is about balance. All the world comes in pairs –  Yin and Yang, right and wrong, men and women. Maybe this is a hint to helping restore the imbalance caused by  type 2 diabetes?

The research was published in the Science Translational Medicine.

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