scientists

Scientists working on developing type 2 diabetes drugs with fewer side effects

by Barbara Hewitt on June 20, 2016

Designing more effective medicines to treat type 2 diabetes with fewer side effects is a step closer thanks to an international research project.

The study gives a greater understanding about how some diabetic drugs work at a molecular level and, more importantly, identifying how they can give mixed or biased messages and scientists say that understanding the origin of these mixed messages can lead to better medicines.

Researchers at the University of Essex in the UK used many years of expertise in computational modelling o carry out 3D computer based simulations of the drugs in action to better understand the intricacies of how they work at the molecular level.

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The research collaboration, initiated by Dr Denise Wootten and Professor Patrick Sexton at Monash University in Australia and involving Professor Larry Miller at the Mayo Clinic in the United States, identified that the chemical message from the drug, in this case to decrease levels of glucose in the blood, sometimes gave more than one meaning to the cell.

Professor Chris Reynolds, from the University of Essex, who led the computational modelling, along with Drs Juan Carlos Mobarec and Kevin Smith, said:

“We are filling a scientific gap in the understanding of how these therapies work and our findings could have huge implications for the design of better medicines to treat type 2 diabetes with fewer side effects,” the team’s report said.

Drs Juan Carlos Mobarec explained that the aim is to understand how messages are sent. “This mechanism where we identified more than one meaning is being communicated can partially explain why some drugs have side effects. We want to understand precisely how this communication system works, so that there are only clean messages delivered into the cells,” he said.

The molecular details of how some current anti-diabetic drugs work is not absolutely clear, and the research being done at Essex is helping to clarify the mechanism of how these and other anti-diabetic drugs work at the molecular level.

The computer simulations at Essex compliment conventional testing in a laboratory setting because they can speed up the research and also can give answers that are too difficult to be reached with conventional experiments.

“That’s the extra edge that scientists gain by working with us at Essex. Together we can reach a unique understanding of the cellular communication system,” said Dr Mobarec.

He added that further research is now needed in this area to further understand the communication channels at a molecular level to be able to create cleaner drugs with a lower chance of complications.

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