Savefor later Page saved! You can go back to this later in your Diabetes and Me Close

Testing molecule recipes to protect against type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease

Project summary

Type 2 diabetes can come with an increased risk of cardiovascular problems affecting the heart and blood vessels. Professor Stephen Wheatcroft wants to test ‘recipes’ for new molecules that can protect against these issues, and also treat type 2 diabetes. This could help researchers to develop new treatments for type 2 diabetes that also lower the risk of cardiovascular disease.

Background to research

People living with type 2 diabetes can have a higher risk of experiencing cardiovascular problems such as heart attacks and stroke. Some treatments for type 2 can actually reduce the risk of these, but people living with type 2 are still at a higher risk than those taking the treatments but living without type 2. 

Prof Wheatcroft has found that high levels of a protein found in blood, called IGFBP-1, can protect people from both type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular problems. It does this by making cells more sensitive to insulin, as well as lowering blood pressure and stopping fatty deposits from forming in blood vessels. 

Only a small chunk of this protein, called the RGD-domain, is responsible for these effects, so Prof Wheatcroft and his team want to develop molecules which mimic its behaviour. They’ve already found ‘recipes’ for some promising new molecules with computer simulations, but now they want to test them in the lab. 

Research aims

The team’s first step is to use the computer simulation’s ‘recipes’ to make the molecules, and then test them on different types of cells grown in the lab. They’ll look at muscle, liver and fat cells, and see if any of the molecules make them more sensitive to insulin. 

Next, they’ll look at blood vessel cells donated from people living with and without diabetes who’ve undergone heart surgery. They’ll test if the cells work any better when treated with the molecules. 

Finally, the team will use the molecules to treat mice with diabetes, and see if they become more sensitive to insulin and if they can protect them from cardiovascular problems. 

Potential benefit to people with diabetes

Knowing how these molecules affect and protect cells could help scientists to develop new and improved treatments for people living with type 2 diabetes that don’t just increase insulin sensitivity, but also lower the risk of cardiovascular disease. 

Back to Top
Brand Icons/Telephonecheck - FontAwesomeicons/tickicons/uk