The primary mechanism that stimulates the development of type 2 diabetes is impaired production of insulin, a hormone that regulates blood sugar.
Unrestricted blood sugar levels can cause a series of health problems, some of which may be life-threatening. However, a new treatment has been discovered that can boost insulin production and stabilize blood sugar levels in the process.
The molecule in tarantula venom may be responsible for countering the main mechanism that leads to type 2 diabetes.
The findings, presented at the UK Diabetes Professional Conference (DUKPC) 2021, build on previous research led by Professor Nigel Irwin at the University of Ulster, which found that Mexican tarantula venom increases insulin production and lowers blood sugar levels.
The new findings, by doctoral student Amy Coulter Parkhill, identify the molecule that could hold the key: TRTX-Ac1.
To test their hypothesis, the research team led by Parkhill developed a synthetic version of TRTX-Ac1 to discover whether it had the same effect on insulin-producing beta cells in the pancreas under laboratory conditions, as well as in mice. Beta cells are unique cells in the pancreas that produce, store and release the hormone insulin.
The researchers found that ΔTRTX-Ac1 more than doubled insulin secretion from pancreatic beta cells in vitro.
The toxin molecule may control channels on the surface of beta cells, where it acts as a gatekeeper that allows other molecules to flow in and out of the cells.
TRTX-Ac1 also improved beta cell growth and did not damage the cells, making it a potential future treatment requiring further investigation.
When injected into mice along with glucose, ΔTRTX-Ac1 steadily lowered blood sugar levels over the course of an hour, indicating that it was able to increase insulin secretion in mice, as well as in cells in the laboratory.
TRTX-Ac1 also reduced food intake in mice, indicating that it might suppress appetite.
Next, the researchers plan to uncover exactly how ΔTRTX-Ac1 works, in addition to evaluating its effectiveness over longer periods of time in animal models of diabetes.
Amy said, “Tarantula venom contains millions of bioactive molecules that may have therapeutic potential. This research highlights one specific molecule of the Mexican blonde tarantula, which shows promise in treating diabetes. We are excited to follow our pilot studies to understand how it might be possible. In the future, ΔTRTX-Ac1 helps people with type 2 diabetes. ”
Dr Elizabeth Robertson, Research Director at Diabetes Foundation UK, who funded the study, said: “This innovative research has revealed a promising new treatment method that could help in the future to improve or restore beta cell function in people with type 2 diabetes. Research like this eventually leads to the development of new treatments to help people with type 2 diabetes better manage their condition and reduce their risk of serious diabetes-related complications. For people, it provides a new weapon for treating type 2 diabetes. ”
Other ways to boost insulin production
There are other possible ways to reduce the effects of insulin resistance, which can help stabilize blood sugar levels. According to Diabetes.co.uk, effective methods include:
Low-carb and ketogenic diets.
• Weight loss.
Get plenty of exercise and eat a healthy diet.
These methods share a similar way of working in that they all help reduce the body’s need for insulin and help people lose weight.
Many people suffer from type 2 diabetes without realizing it. This is because the symptoms do not necessarily make you feel unwell.
Symptoms of type 2 diabetes include:
Urinate more than usual, especially at night.
Feeling thirsty all the time.
Feeling very tired.
• Lose weight without trying.
Wounds take longer to heal.