Cancer drug could help combat type 2 diabetes and obesity

by Barbara Hewitt on January 27, 2016

A drug initially designed for breast cancer could be a safe treatment for type 2 diabetes and the obesity which increases the risk of developing the condition.

A team of researchers from the University of Aberdeen in Scotland made the discovery while studying the complex connections between obesity and type 2 diabetes which is an increasingly important area of bio-medical research.

Medical ResearchTests using a drug called Fenretinide, which has been used in breast cancer trials for a number of years, revealed it can reduce obesity and type 2 diabetes in mice that eat a high fat diet.

The team led by Dr Nimesh Mody, a lecturer at the University of Aberdeenís Institute of Medical Sciences, found out more about how Fenretinide works and have deemed it a potentially safe, anti-obesity, anti-diabetic treatment.

Obesity and type 2 diabetes present a major public health challenge in countries around the world and the researchers aim to further understand the complex connections between the two conditions.

“This information will help us further our understanding of the complex connections between obesity and the development of type 2 diabetes and may help us to develop new drugs that are better at treating these medical conditions,” said Dr Mody.

He explained that vitamin A and vitamin A like molecules called retinoids have been shown to have major effects on body fat and blood sugar levels and thought to have a role in obesity.
Fenretinide is a retinoid and the Aberdeen team have previously shown that it can prevent or reduce obesity and type 2 diabetes in mice that eat a high fat diet.

“In this new study we have discovered more about how Fenretinide works in fat cells, called adipocytes, and in mice. Fenretinide has beneficial effects that are similar to vitamin A but also have the effect of reducing the production of a harmful type of molecule called ceramide,” said Dr Mody.

“We think that the combination of these unrelated effects is what makes Fenretinide a potential safe, anti-obesity, anti-diabetic treatment. Going forward we aim to chemically modify Fenretinide to produce two different versions; one that will retain retinoid-like properties, whilst the other will be lacking them,” he pointed out.

“We will compare the properties, characteristics and effects of these two compounds to see how similar they are to the original Fenretinide. Through these experiments, we aim to find out whether the beneficial effects of Fenretinide in safely reducing obesity and type 2 diabetes is due to retinoid like properties,” he explained.

“This information will help us further our understanding of the complex connections between obesity and the development of type 2 diabetes and may help us to develop new drugs that are better at treating these medical conditions,” he added.


The opinions expressed in this article do not necessarily reflect the views of the DiabetesForum.com Community and should not be interpreted as medical advice. Please see your doctor before making any changes to your diabetes management plan.

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