Diabetes treatment has long relied on insulin, which is known for regulating blood glucose levels. However, scientists at the Salk Institute have made an exciting discovery – another molecular pathway that regulates blood glucose. This may potentially open up an alternate avenue for treatment.
The Salk team’s discovery of a molecule called FGF1 that performs a similar function to insulin, namely the regulation of blood glucose levels, actually took place a few years ago. The team has since tested the FGF1 hormone on diabetic mice and found that a single injection restored their blood glucose to normal levels for more than two days. The team later demonstrated that brain injections of the FGF1 hormone could put diabetes into remission for weeks or even months.
The researchers assumed that the newly discovered hormone works the same way insulin does. However, they were surprised to find that even though FGF1 functions like insulin in the sense that it regulates glucose production in the liver and suppresses fat breakdown or lipolysis, FGF1 works through a completely different molecular pathway.
“The mechanism is basically a second loop, with all the advantages of a parallel pathway,” reported the first author of the study Gencer Sancar. “In insulin resistance, insulin signaling is impaired. However, with a different signaling cascade, if one is not working, the other can. That way you still have the control of lipolysis and blood glucose regulation.”
This important difference could offer diabetic patients an improved treatment, especially for those who currently require daily insulin injections.
Source study: Cell Metabolism—FGF1 and insulin control lipolysis by convergent pathways