A cancer drug could help treat type 2 diabetes, according to new research.
Imatinib, otherwise known as Gleevec, was found to successfully lower insulin level resistance in mice, therefore reducing the risk of both hyperglycemia and obesity.
The insulin and blood sugar results of Gleevec were similar to another group of drugs called thiazolidinediones (TZDs), which had previously been used to treat type 2 diabetes. In 2010, Avandia (rosiglitazone), the most popularly prescribed TZD, was removed from the UK market after severe side effects were reported.
Researchers also found Gleevec reduced lipogenic and gluconeogenic gene expression in the liver, and improved inflammation in adipose tissue, all of which the researchers said are useful against type 2 diabetes.
The research was carried out by scientists from the Scripps Research Institute and Seoul National University.
Professor Jang Hyun Choi from the School of Life Sciences of Ulsan National Institute of Science and Technology said: “Although studies have shown that Gleevec treatment may show improved insulin sensitivity and decrease blood glucose in patients with known diabetes, the exact cause hasn’t been proven yet.
“Through this research, we discovered Gleevec, which is used in leukemia medications, can inhibit the phosphorylation of PPARγ.
“Taken together, Gleevec exhibits greater beneficial effects on both glucose/lipid metabolism and energy homeostasis by blocking PPARγ phosphorylation. These data illustrate that Gleevec could be a novel therapeutic agent for use in insulin resistance and type 2 diabetes.”
The findings of the study were published in the journal Diabetes.

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