Biologists in San Diego have uncovered a chemical that eludes to promising new development of drugs to treat such disorders as type 2 diabetes; a major and increasing health problem – especially in the United States.
The discovery was an initial surprise because the chemical does not control glucose production in the liver, but instead acts on the activity of a regulatory protein of the internal mechanisms of our daily actions, which scientists call our “Circadian rhythm“, also known as our biological clock.
The scientists had long believed that a link existed between problems in our biological clock, diabetes and obesity. It had been found that laboratory mice with altered biological clocks often became obese and developed diabetes, which led them to this belief. Two years ago, it was finally found out that the protein cryptochrome, which controls biological clocks of mammals, insects and also plants, also happens to regulate glucose production in the liver and changes the levels of this protein could improve the health of diabetics.
A small molecule has now been discovered that can easily be developed into a drug, that controls timekeeping mechanisms of cryptochrome so that it can repress the production of glucose by the liver. One of the scientists says that at the end of the night, our hormones signal that we are in a fasting state, and during the day these signals shut down and tell our liver to produce more glucose.
It has been discovered that cryptochrome plays a critical role in regulating the internal timing of our cyclical eating patterns, timing our fasting at night with our eating during the day to maintain a steady supply of glucose in our bloodstream. Other researchers have recently discovered that cryptochrome also has the potential to reduce high blood sugar from asthma medication by adjusting the time of day a patient takes their medication. A much smaller molecule, which has been named “KL001“, is able to regulated that activity as well.
Biochemical studies have shown that KL001 prevents cyptochrome from being broken down, and the scientists state that the next step for the research group is to learn how KL001 and similar molecules affect the function of cryptochrome, and believe that this is an open door to opportunities for many different therapeutics.
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