protein

Protein discovery could lead to new treatment for type 2 diabetes

by Barbara Hewitt on December 26, 2017

A protein normally associated with anxiety and depression also has an effect on the development of type 2 diabetes, especially in people who have an unhealthy diet that is high in fat, scientists have discovered.

It is already known that the protein FKBP51 is involved in the regulation of the body’s stress system but now researchers have found that it also acts as a molecular link with metabolic processes in the body.

(kasto/Bigstock.com)

This means that blocking it could lead to new treatments for type 2 diabetes caused by obesity, according to the research from the Max Planck Institute of Psychiatry (MPI) in Germany.

Indeed, the research suggests that if this protein is blocked, type 2 diabetes is less likely to develop even if people consume too many calories as less FKBP51 in muscle tissue means reduced glucose intolerance and the maintenance of a normal metabolism.

‘FKBP51 influences a signalling cascade in muscle tissue, which with excessive calorie intake leads to the development of glucose intolerance, the key indicator of diabetes type 2,’ said project leader Mathias Schmidt.

Insulin resistance occurs when muscles, liver, and fat cells become unable to use insulin appropriately, which ultimately leads to a dangerous rise in blood glucose levels.

Schmidt explained that an unhealthy diet, rich in fat means stress for the body. If FKBP51 is increasingly produced in the muscle it leads to reduced absorption of glucose and as a result, diabetes and obesity may develop.

However, the theory is that if FKBP51 is blocked, diabetes will not develop, even if too many calories are consumed or the body is still stressed. Less FKBP51 in the muscle tissue means reduced glucose intolerance and thus maintenance of normal metabolism.

The research report explains that FKBP51 can be pharmacologically blocked by antagonist compounds that were developed at the MPI by Felix Hausch in collaboration with scientists at the Technical University Darmstadt.

They are now going on to improve and develop these antagonist compounds further for use in clinical trials and plan to use SAFit2 to block the action of FKBP51. ‘These findings may provide a completely new treatment approach for diabetes and other metabolic diseases,’ said Alon Chen, director of the MPI.

They believe that treatment with SAFit2 could lead to better body weight regulation and glucose tolerance, thus preventing the onset of diabetes.

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