Scientists in the United States are researching a naturally occurring cell chemical that it is hoped could help develop new treatments for preventing or reversing type 2 diabetes.
The researchers, from Washington University School of Medicine in St Louis, are investigating the compound nicotinamide mononucleotide (NMN), which has a key role in how cells use energy. They showed how to normalise levels of blood sugar in diabetic mice through an injection with NMN, while also reducing levels of cholesterol and triglyceride blood fats.
The scientists were able to trigger the metabolic condition in the mice by providing them with a high-fat diet. All the mice experienced lower levels of NAD, a molecule that takes energy from nutrients and turns it into a usable energy. For mice and humans, NAD derives from NMN produced by cells through a chain reaction. When mice were injected with NMN, they displayed a dramatically improved response to glucose.
The study now is assessing how to give NMN to the laboratory mice in their drinking water, and hope to produce a type of nutriceutical pill in the future that could be taken in the same way as a vitamin pill for treating type 2 diabetes.
Shin-ichiro Imai, who led the study, commented “Once we can get a grade of NMN that humans can take, we would really like to launch a pilot human study.”

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