Research shows that a new medication, in combination with metformin, could serve as a treatment for type 2 diabetes and prolong the life of insulin producing beta cells.
The new ingredient is an MK2 inhibitor which has anti-inflammatory properties and can diminish the effects of glucagon, the hormone which raises blood sugar levels.
Both metformin and MK2 inhibitors work by targeting the liver, but the way they each work is different and this, the researchers say, is key as it means that the benefits of MK2 inhibitors can build upon the benefits of metformin.
Metformin has been shown to work by decreasing glucose production in the liver and improving sensitivity to insulin. MK2 inhibitors work, however, by blocking glucagon from activating cells to release glucose into the blood.
By limiting the rise in blood sugar levels, the demand on the pancreas to produce insulin is reduced and the researchers believe this could help prevent progression from prediabetes through to type 2 diabetes. It may also help preserve the ability to produce insulin of people with type 2 diabetes.
MK2 also shows promise as it appears to have beneficial effects in lowering cholesterol levels and may even have protective properties against heart disease.
The research, being undertaken by Columbia University in New York, is currently at an early stage and to date the research carried out has been on mice. Further research will need to be undertaken to see if there are significant negative side effects and readers are reminded that, if successful, new diabetes drugs usually take several years of research before they receive marketing approval.

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