Researchers say they have discovered why type 2 diabetes drug trials which have worked on mice do not always work in humans.
Historically mice are often used to test drugs because it has always been believed the animals have similar biological traits to people, but sometimes treatments that are successful in mice fail in humans with no explanation.
But research teams from Sweden and London now say they have worked out why this happens. They think it is because the animals have different G protein-coupled receptors (GPCRs), which are found on insulin-producing beta cells in the pancreas, compared to humans.
GPCRs are important because they help the body to detect tastes and smells, while also helping to regulate the immune system.
Researchers from Lund University in Sweden and King’s College London say that GPCRs are one of the largest targets in new diabetes medication to see if they can kick-start insulin production. However, they have found there are receptors which only exist in humans and not in the animals and vice versa.
Stefan Amisten from King’s College London said: “This means that a drug developed to stimulate or inhibit a particular receptor which, in mice, can lead to increased insulin production, might have no effect on humans, or even could cause unbeneficial and diabetes-like symptoms.”
The researchers wrote: “Overall, the data presented here provide an essential resource for the translation of mouse islet functional data to the human islet context.”
However, the team still managed to identify GPCRs which exist in both mice and humans. Now they have a better understanding of the receptors they believe drug testing may be more precise in future trials.
The findings of the study have been published in the Scientific Reports journal.

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