Scientists in the United States have come up with a new way of increasing glucose production in the liver when the level of blood sugar goes down, a breakthrough that could bring new drug treatments for type 2 diabetes .
The research, carried out at the Salk Institute for Biological Studies and published in the journal Cell, focused on the role of histone deacetylases (HDACs), a set of enzymes that help improve the production of sugar when blood glucose levels start to deteriorate after a prolonged period of fasting or during the night. HDACs are also being targeted for their potential in the development of new cancer drugs .
Researcher Reuben J. Shaw commented “In liver cells, so-called class II HDACs are usually sequestered outside the nucleus but in response to fasting signals they quickly shuttle into the nucleus where they help turn on genes needed for glucose production.”
Shaw, who had previously shown how the drug metformin could help insulin to manage glucose levels in type 2 diabetes, added “Thus drugs that specifically inhibit HDACs involved in gluconeogenesis may be very useful for the treatment of diabetes and metabolic syndrome .”
In particular, class II HDACs were revealed as direct targets of AMPK (AMP-activated protein kinase), and that inhibiting them closed down genes-encoding enzymes required to synthesise glucose in the liver.

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