New drug combo may improve blood sugar and weight control in diabetes

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In a new study, researchers found that adding an experimental cancer drug to a widely used diabetes treatment may improve blood glucose control and weight loss.

The results pave the way for clinical studies of the new drug combination as a more effective long-term treatment for millions of people with diabetes and obesity.

The research was conducted by a team at the University of Hyderabad and elsewhere.

GLP-1 analogs are a relatively new class of drugs that reduce blood sugar levels and lower body weight.

But not all patients achieve normal blood glucose control with GLP-1 drugs, and very few achieve a full reversal of obesity.

In the study, the team wanted to see whether they could enhance the effects of GLP-1 agonism on regulating blood sugar levels with complementary therapy.

The team started with a group of potential drugs and tested them in pancreatic beta cells.

They found four molecules that enhanced GLP-1 drug activity. The most effective one is MS-275, which is a member of a drug family that is being tested as treatments for other diseases including cancer.

Given the synergistic effect of the drugs in pancreatic beta cells, the team tested whether their findings would hold true in obese mice, fed a high-fat diet.

They found that mice treated with the combination of GLP-1 agonist and MS-275 had a much lower fasting glucose level than control mice that were sustained with repeat dosing.

Where a high-fat diet increased fasting blood sugar in the untreated mice, the mice on the combination treatment remained in control.

Given these effects on blood sugar, the team explored whether the combination treatment also minimized weight gain.

Mice given the combination treatment had a significant and sustained reduction in their food intake, which resulted in weight loss. When treatment was interrupted, the mice regained weight.

Once the treatment was resumed, only the mice receiving the combination treatment showed significant weight loss again.

The team says GLP-1 drugs have emerged in the last decade as unique medicines that provide substantial improvements in glycemic control and body weight.

The new results suggest that the drug MS-275 can strongly enhance the action of GLP-1 drugs, more effectively normalizing blood glucose and reducing weight gain.

This lays the foundation for the long-term management of diabetes and obesity in humans.

One author of the study is Dr. Prasenjit Mitra.

The study is published in eLife.

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