Single injection reverses type 2 diabetes symptoms in mice without side effects


August 6, 2014

Researchers at the Salk Institute have found that the FGF1 protein shows promise for the development of safer, more effective diabetes drugs

Researchers at the Salk Institute have found that the FGF1 protein shows promise for the development of safer, more effective diabetes drugs

There are numerous research efforts underway to develop new treatments and improve the lives of people suffering type 2 diabetes, whose ranks have increased dramatically in recent decades due in large part to the so-called obesity epidemic. A new generation of safer and more effective diabetes drugs could be in the offing with researchers at the Salk Institute discovering that when mice with diet-induced diabetes were given a single injection of a protein, their blood sugar levels were restored to a healthy range for more than two days.

Although type 2 diabetes can sometimes be managed through a healthy diet and regular exercise in the initial stages, tablets that boost the body's production of insulin are generally prescribed as the disease progresses. Such tablets can have side effects, including nausea and diarrhea, and aren't suitable for everyone, such as pregnant women and those with severe liver, kidney or heart disease. They can also cause blood glucose levels to drop too low, potentially resulting in hypoglycemia.

Now Salk researchers have found that injecting obese mice with the equivalent of type 2 diabetes in humans with a single dose of protein FGF1 quickly restored their blood glucose levels to normal levels where they remained for more than two days. Importantly, even when given high doses, the mice suffered none of the side effects common to most current diabetes treatments, such as weight gain or heart and liver problems.

"With FGF1, we really haven't seen hypoglycemia or other common side effects," says Salk postdoctoral research fellow Jae Myoung Suh. "It may be that FGF1 leads to a more 'normal' type of response compared to other drugs because it metabolizes quickly in the body and targets certain cell types."

Like the mechanism of insulin resistance that causes diabetes, the team says the mechanism responsible for FGF1 normalizing blood sugar levels isn't fully understood. But despite FGF1 being a growth factor, the team found that its ability to stimulate growth was independent of its effects on blood glucose levels, thereby increasing the chances of it being used to develop safer, more effective diabetes drugs.

"We want to move this to people by developing a new generation of FGF1 variants that solely affect glucose and not cell growth," says says Ronald M. Evans, director of Salk's Gene Expression Laboratory. "If we can find the perfect variation, I think we will have on our hands a very new, very effective tool for glucose control."

Evans and his team are planning to conduct human trials of FGF1, but admit fine-tuning the protein into a therapeutic drug will take time.

The team's paper is published in the journal Nature and a video detailing the discovery can be viewed below.

Source: Salk Institute

About the Author
Darren Quick Darren's love of technology started in primary school with a Nintendo Game & Watch Donkey Kong (still functioning) and a Commodore VIC 20 computer (not still functioning). In high school he upgraded to a 286 PC, and he's been following Moore's law ever since. This love of technology continued through a number of university courses and crappy jobs until 2008, when his interests found a home at Gizmag. All articles by Darren Quick

I think that is really good news for those who are diabetic type 2. Being one of them, I hope they have success with it.


I am curious to know if phosphatidic acid will increase the production of FGF1 which in term will reverse type 2 diabetes. If so then they should add it to Amino Acid supplements.


Histamine, glutamate, carbachol, serotonin or gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA)can also cause an increase of FGF-1 content


This is terrific news..I hope they can isolate the metabolic part from the growth factor; when a cousin of mine was complaining that he was 'too short' I told him to go to GNC and buy some GH or Human growth factor in a bottle..BUT then I remembered from an exam in Nursing school that, the facts are: GH will also affect your metabolism so, there was a little danger in that...really, hope you can find the right mechanism to cure people's Diabetes. God speed, as they say!

Laurie Czerwinski

Fantastic news. For a change something worthwhile resulting from research instead of going in the direction of building a permanent client ( read drug consuming patient) base.


"...fine-tuning the protein into a therapeutic drug will take time."

Translation, they don't want to screw up and develop a cure because cures are a one shot money deal while therapeutic treatment lasts as long as the patient lives.

Gregg Eshelman

It is something that one injection of protein has been beneficial. I hope that more developments help come up with solutions for diabetes.

TiSecret CB

"Although type 2 diabetes can sometimes be managed through a healthy diet and regular exercise in the initial stages ..."

No matter how often you say it, this doesn't get any less insane.

The "healthy diet" being referred to is a low fat high carbohydrate diet ... for people ... with a carbohydrate intolerance ...

What's next? Peanut allergy? - oh, the obvious answer ... is more peanuts!

And to think some people are wondering why this drivel makes the disease progression 'inevitable'

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