Monday, December 15, 2014
This week, a group of researchers working from Munich, Germany and Indiana, USA, report, what may be a major breakthrough in the treatment of obesity and type 2 diabetes.
In their paper, published in Nature Medicine, the researchers use a range of sophisticated experiments to demonstrate that a novel peptide, which combines agonistic actions of three hormones (GLP-1, GIP and glucagon) into a single molecule, can fully reverse diabetes and reduce body weight by over 30% in mice.
Despite this just being a mouse study, the triple combination findings are no accident. Rather, these researchers have rationally designed this molecule based on the known actions of these three hormones.
As the authors describe it, their finding
“predominantly results from synergistic glucagon action to increase energy expenditure, GLP-1 action to reduce caloric intake and improve glucose control, and GIP action to potentiate the incretin effect and buffer against the diabetogenic effect of inherent glucagon activity.”
According to their report, this “designer” peptide,
“…demonstrates supraphysiological potency and equally aligned constituent activities at each receptor, all without cross-reactivity at other related receptors. Such balanced unimolecular triple agonism proved superior to any existing dual coagonists and best-in-class monoagonists to reduce body weight, enhance glycemic control and reverse hepatic steatosis in relevant rodent models.”
Similar activity in humans would indeed represent a breakthrough, potentially providing a medical treatment that may be as (if not more) potent than bariatric surgery.
While the path to human development is generally long and stony, there are at least some folks who are optimistic: the molecule has been licensed to Marcadia Biotech Inc., now fully owned by the Swiss pharma giant Roche.
Clearly, this will be an exciting space to watch.