Ingredient in aspirin could help treat diabetes

Tue, 24 Apr 2012
Researchers have revealed a connection between an ingredient in aspirin and a protein that helps to regulate cell growth and metabolism that could lead to new treatments for cancer and type 2 diabetes.

The scientists, from Canada, Australia and Scotland, found that salicylate, which is derived from willow bark, can improve the working of AMP-activated protein kinase (AMPK), which is usually activated through physical exercise and metformin, a drug taken to treat type 2 diabetes. It was shown that salicylate could also have possibilities as an anti-cancer medication.

The findings follow recent research that showed that daily aspirin consumption could substantially lower the risk of many cancers and also stop tumors from spreading. This study, which was reported in the journal Science, helped to explain why this was the case, although more research is needed to pinpoint the best concentrations of salicylate to use.

Co-lead author on the study, Greg Steinberg, said "we show that, in contrast to exercise or metformin, which increase AMPK activity by altering the cells energy balance, the effects of salicylate is totally reliant on a single Ser108 amino acid of the beta 1 subunit."

He added, "We show that salicylate increases fat burning and reduces liver fat in obese mice and that this does not occur in genetically modified mice lacking the beta1 subunit of AMPK."
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