Scientists have created a type 2 diabetes drug that can be deactivated by blue light, potentially improving treatment of the condition.
Researchers from the Department of Medicine at Imperial College London believe that this could provide a less risky alternative to type 2 diabetes medication. Diabetes drugs, which trigger the production of insulin in the pancreas to control blood sugar levels, often cause side effects. These side effects can affect the heart and brain.
The research, published in Nature Communications, found that JB253 – the study’s prototype drug, an adaptation of existing drug sulfonylurea – reacted to blue light by increasing insulin production.
How does this help?
Diabetes patients risk developing hypoglycemia and cardiovascular disease when they use sulfonylureas, but the study claims to address such risks.
Dr. David Hodso, lecturer at Imperial College London, said that “in principle, this type of therapy may allow better control over blood sugar levels because it can be switched on for a short time when required after a meal. It should also reduce complications by targeting drug activity to where it’s needed in the pancreas.”
How does it work?
Theoretically, the drug is inactive until the patient activates it using blue LED lights attached to their skin.
This is, however, only the first step of a long process. While researchers have created a molecule that has the right effect on human pancreatic cells, a lot of work is needed before it can be used to treat patients.

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