In mice with diet-induced diabetes — the equivalent of type 2 diabetes in humans — a single injection of the protein FGF1 is enough to restore blood sugar levels to a healthy range for more than two days. The discovery could lead to a new generation of safer, more effective diabetes drugs. The team found that sustained treatment with the protein doesn’t merely keep blood sugar under control, but also reverses insulin insensitivity, the underlying physiological cause of diabetes. Equally exciting, the newly developed treatment doesn’t result in side effects common to most current diabetes treatments.
“We want to move this to people by developing a new generation of FGF1 variants that solely affect glucose and not cell growth. If we can find the perfect variation, I think we will have on our hands a very new, very effective tool for glucose control.” says Ronald M. Evans, director of Salk’s Gene Expression Laboratory and corresponding author of the paper.