“Our goal is to develop better therapies for cardiovascular disease, including diabetes and metabolic syndrome, which are major risk factors for worsening heart and vascular problems,” said senior author Rajan Sah, MD, Ph.D., an associate professor of medicine.
We have many treatments for diabetes, but even with those therapies, cardiovascular disease remains a leading cause of death among patients with type 2 diabetes. There is a need for new treatments that work differently from the current standard-of-care therapies.
Researchers studied the role of protein SWELL1 in sensing the size or volume of cells. Their new research reveals that the protein also helps to control insulin secretion from the pancreas and improve insulin sensitivity, including in skeletal muscle and adipose tissue, the body’s fat stores.
They also showed that SWELL1 acts as a signaling molecule, turning on cellular tasks that govern how well cells use insulin and also facilitates the pancreas’ secretion of insulin into the bloodstream.
The SN-401 compound improved multiple aspects of metabolic syndrome in two groups of mice that each developed diabetes from different causes, one because of a genetic predisposition and the other due to a high-fat diet.
In addition to improving insulin sensitivity and secretion, treatment with the compound also improved blood sugar levels and reduced-fat buildup in the liver.
Most of these studies were conducted with an injected form of the compound, but the researchers showed evidence that it also could be effective if taken by mouth.
Researchers further showed that the compound does not have a big impact on blood sugar in healthy mice, which is important for its potential as a future possible therapy.
Current medications for diabetes can result in blood sugar levels that are too low. The evidence suggests that this compound does not lower blood sugar in situations when it doesn’t need to.