A new drug could help prevent people with prediabetes from progressing to type 2 diabetes by working in a unique way to improve glucose tolerance.
Results from a pilot study by researchers in America shows that the medication, codenamed NM504, improves the body’s response to carbohydrate intake by altering bacteria in the gastrointestinal (GI) tract and other microorganisms (microbiota) and their environment in specific ways.
Scientists believe the GI microbiome may play a vital role in controlling the body’s metabolism, and a recent study found evidence that microbial imbalance (dysbiosis) in the gut plays a role in the development of type 2 diabetes.
“We believe that modern Western diets contribute to development of Type 2 diabetes, in part because they change the habitat of the microorganisms that reside in the gut. This shifts the microbial populations that live there in ways that affect metabolic health,” Mark Heima, principal investigator of the study, explained.
Targeting the GI microbiomen, Heiman and colleagues at the Colorado-based biotechnology company MicroBiome Therapeutics developed NM504 as the first in a new class of drug treatments known as GI microbiome modulators.
To test its effectiveness, 28 adults diagnosed with prediabetes were randomly assigned by the research team to receive either NM504 twice a day, or a placebo. All participants had an oral glucose tolerance test (a sugary drink followed by blood sugar checks at regular intervals) before treatment and again at four weeks of treatment.
After four weeks, those who took NM504 has significantly lower blood sugar levels at 2 and 3 hours after the OGTT than subjects who received the placebo. They also showed an increase in insulin sensitivity during the test and a reduced appetite, compared with placebo.
“This work indicates a new therapeutic target-the GI microbiome-that has the potential to revolutionise the treatment of metabolic diseases such as Type 2 diabetes,” Heima, chief scientific officer for MicroBiome Therapeutics, added.
The overall goal for the company is to develop NM504 and/or a closely related therapeutic into a prescription medicine for treating prediabetes and type 2 diabetes

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