A new study out of Sanford-Burnham Presby Medical Discover Institute could have discovered a new way to improve insulin responsiveness and help treat diabetes earlier than before. The study that was released in the Journal of CLinicla Investigation has shown some exciting news for the diabetic community.

One of the key traits that happen before type 2 diabetes is insulin resistance, which means insulin doesn’t cause the body’s cell to take the glucose from our foods. Because glucose continues to run through the blood, it promotes the pancreas to make more insulin, which eventually causes other insulin-producing cells to die. But researchers may have found a way to stop this before it progresses.

treating diabetes earlyThe scientists isolated a protein that is called MondoA, which could be the key to preventing type 2 diabetes. Daniel P. Kelly, M.D., professor, and director of SBP’s Center for Metabolic Origins of Disease, went on to explain the importance of the results from this study, “Our new study shows that a protein called MondoA may serve as a key link between insulin resistance and accumulation of fat in muscle, which occurs in obesity-related diabetes. This study is the first step towards testing MondoA-targeted drugs to prevent type 2 diabetes in pre-clinical studies.”

The study focused on the primary insulin-responsive parts of the body, mostly the muscles. One of the first symptoms of insulin resistance is fat in the muscle coupled with less importing of glucose. After looking at the correlation between the two, they looked at thousands of different molecules that could regulate both of these problems.

“Until now, it wasn’t clear why people who are insulin resistant accumulate fat in their muscle,” Kelly went on to explain about some of the importance of the study. “These results show that MondoA is one mechanism that ties these phenomena together, serving as a gatekeeper for fuel burning in muscle.”

The researchers say that they plan to continue their studies by looking for molecules that inhibit MondoA more effectively. As they continue their research, it could have a huge impact on the way that we look at diabetes and preventing it before it becomes a full type 2 diagnosis. After all the testing, they came upon a small molecule, SBI-477. They later learned that this molecule can deactivate the Mondo. When using the molecule in the human body, they were able to reduce fat accumulation and increase glucose uptake.

“Investigating the cellular effects of SBI-477, the best hit molecule from our screen, led us to MondoA. Our experiments showed that this protein regulates genes involved in synthesizing fats as well as inhibiting insulin signaling.” Even if their research doesn’t lead to any new groundbreaking medications, it’s still a huge leap in understanding more about diabetes and how it occurs inside of the body. The more we know, the closer we are to a permanent cure for the disease.

The discovery of this molecule is just the beginning of what could be a long research process. If they can create treatments that efficiently and safely improve insulin responsiveness inside the body, it could make huge waves in the healthcare field. This could lead to fewer new diabetes cases as they can reverse the disease before it starts to take a serious toll on the body.

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