Beyond insulin, Hyderabad scientists find new way to treat diabetes

Hyderabad: The solution to India’s rampant diabetic problem may be something that’s not insulin. Recent research by a group from the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research-Centre for Cellular and Molecular Biology, Hyderabad (CSIR-CCMB) shows the role of a new protein secretagogin (SCGN). The protein is shown to increase insulin action in obesity-induced diabetes.

Studies show that in a diabetic patient, the levels of this protein will be very low. Through their research, CCMB analysts demonstrated that injection of SCGN clears excess insulin from circulation and reduces fat mass. This experiment, which was first conducted on obese diabetic mice, also revealed that SCGN-treated animals had lower levels of harmful LDL-cholesterol and lower lipid accumulation in liver cells.

Diabetes usually occurs when the pancreas is unable to make insulin, or when the body is incapable of utilising the insulin it produces. Insulin is the hormone that helps glucose gets into cells. However, when the body malfunctions in insulin production or distribution, this leads to increased glucose levels in the blood, turning the condition into what people call “sugar”.

Dr Yogendra Sharma from CSIR-CCMB, Hyderabad and his colleagues, Anand Sharma, Radhika Khandelwal and Amrutha Chidananda undertook this study. The researchers believe that even though studies on diabetes have been going on, the processes regulating insulin synthesis, maturation, secretion and signalling in diabetes are still not completely understood at present. It calls for a gap in diabetes studies that need to be addressed.

Links between Diabetes and Alzheimer’s Disease

Other relevant findings from the research include the link between diabetes and neurodegenerative disorders such as dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. As per their study, Alzheimer’s patients contain low levels of SCGN in their brains. Besides, in a parallel study published in Biochemistry, Dr Sharma’s group has also revealed SCGN’s role in preventing the formation of alpha-synuclein protein fibrils — a precursor for many neurodegenerative diseases. “SCGN would soon become a diagnostic marker, and one should check its potential in diabetes management,” says Dr Yogendra Sharma.

In a country like India, which contributes 49% to the world’s total diabetic population, it has become the need of the hour to curb the silent killer.

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