A new type 2 diabetes drug is being tested that may be able to improve blood glucose levels, and prevent weight gain, liver damage and muscle loss.

The medication, currently known as IC7Fc, has so far been tested in mice by researchers at Monash University, Australia.

The compound is a protein that would need to be injected, rather than taken as a tablet. However, the researchers expect that it would only need to be injected once a week.

Lead author Prof Mark Febbraio said: “This is the first time that we have demonstrated pharmacological evidence that we could treat obesity, type 2 diabetes, muscle loss and a loss of bone density with a single drug.”

The studies carried out to date have taken place over a period of 13 years. As with any prospective drug, it will need to demonstrate safety in a series of clinical trials before it can be made publicly available for use by people.

Safety tests have so far been carried out on human cells in the lab and in monkeys. The researchers report no effects on inflammation or immune response. Further tests will be needed to see whether any undesirable effects occur.

Funding is now being sought so the drug can be trialled in humans. If found to be effective, the researchers think it could be of particular benefit to older people with type 2 diabetes who may suffer with muscle mass and bone density problems.

Prof Febbraio added: “Despite the presence of a number of well-established drug classes for treating type 2 diabetes, there is still a significant unmet need for a drug that halts, or reverses, disease progression.

“A drug such as the IC7Fc could not only treat diabetes but could be harnessed to treat muscle mass loss, regulate food intake and frailty as well.”

The findings have been published in the Nature journal.

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