Researchers develop new type 2 diabetes medication that produces few side effects

A team of researchers from Harvard University and the Dana Farber Cancer Institute is reporting it has developed a new compound that may effectively treat the symptoms of type 2 diabetes, while avoiding many of the side effects that accompany most currently available medications.

They believe it will be possible to develop a host of new pharmaceuticals from their discovery that may significantly improve the quality of diabetes care.

The team previously reported observing that the enzyme Cdk5 alters a certain protein in the body, and that this process triggers insulin resistance, which ultimately leads to the development of type 2 diabetes.

Their new finding, which was published in the journal Nature, describes the development of a molecule, which the team calls SR1664. This compound blocks the action of Cdk5, which prevents the progression of the process that leads to insulin resistance and type 2 diabetes.

When the substance was administered to diabetic mice, it resulted in improvements in blood sugar levels similar to those of Avandia, which is one of the most commonly available medications for type 2 diabetes. However, the mice given SR1664 did not experience significant weight gain or develop cardiovascular complications, which are side effects commonly associated with Avandia.

The team said these results raise hopes for the development of new medications that specifically target the symptoms of type 2 diabetes without producing side effects like most current treatments.

"This unique mechanism of action appears to significantly limit side effects associated with marketed drugs," said Patrick Griffin, who led the investigation. "We are now advancing newer compounds with improved pharmaceutical properties into additional studies."

The findings come at an opportune time. Avandia, or rosiglitazone as it is also known, is scheduled to be removed from the market this fall. Although it is effective at controlling blood sugar levels, it has also been shown to increase a person's risk of suffering a heart attack. This may be due in part to the fact that it causes significant weight gain.

Though the medication may have certain hazardous properties, many people rely on it to manage their condition. At some point, a viable replacement will need to be found for it. The research team believes that SR1664 could lead to that medication.