After decades of searching, researchers may have finally identified a chemical compound that could be used to study and treat diabetes.
Researchers have long known that the body carries an enzyme that breaks down insulin inside cells and helps regulate the body’s response to sugars—a process that goes awry in type 2 diabetes. Genetic studies have shown that people with type 2 diabetes are more likely to have mutations in the gene that encodes a protein called insulin-degrading enzyme, or IDE. But exactly which processes the enzyme controls is not yet clear.
David Liu and his team at Harvard have identified a chemical compound that can inhibit IDE, and they have shown that the compound increases the amount of insulin in the bloodstreams of both normal mice and ones made obese by an unhealthy diet.