Professor Nik Morton wants to know if a drug already used in other health conditions could be used to treat type 2 diabetes. He’ll also look at how this drug works to lower blood glucose levels. This could lead to a new treatment for type 2 diabetes that could help to improve people’s blood glucose control and reduce their risk of complications.
Background to research
When our body breaks down protein from our diet, we produce a gas which causes the liver to make glucose. In people with type 2 diabetes, this can make blood glucose levels more difficult to control.
Professor Morton and his team have found that a protein, called TST, breaks down this gas and can reduce the amount of glucose the liver makes. They’ve also discovered that a drug – called thiosulfate - which is already used to treat other medical conditions, increases levels of TST and lowers blood glucose levels in mice.
Professor Morton will first test if thiosulfate can effectively treat type 2 diabetes. The team then aim to find out how the protein TST lowers blood glucose levels, by looking at the effect it has on liver cells. They’ll do this by studying mice with and without TST in their livers.
Professor Morton will then study liver cells from people with type 2 diabetes, to help find new proteins that work alongside TST. This will build a picture of how TST works, and could lead to new and improved drugs for treating type 2 diabetes.
Potential benefit to people with diabetes
If this research shows that thiosulfate can help treat type 2 diabetes, it could have a rapid impact, as this drug is already available. This research could be particularly helpful for people with type 2 diabetes who don’t respond as well to other type 2 drugs, like metformin. In the future, this work could also help to develop new and more specific drugs to treat type 2 diabetes.