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ERI patents treatments for insulin resistance in diabetes accompanying obesity

DENVER -- Dr. Miles Brennan of the Eleanor Roosevelt Institute at the University of Denver (ERI) and Dr. Ute Hochgeschwender of the Oklahoma Medical Research Foundation have patented a method of reducing insulin resistance that could lead to potential treatments for diabetes accompanying obesity.

Insulin is a hormone that prompts cells to store glucose, a natural sugar, while another hormone called glucagon has the opposite effect, prompting cells to release stored glucose into the bloodstream. In healthy individuals the two hormones achieve homeostasis, or balance. Type II diabetes occurs when the body becomes resistant to insulin, preventing it from storing glucose. Because melanocyte-stimulating hormone (MSH) causes the pancreas to secrete glucagon, MSH must be present for type II diabetes to develop. Obesity and high cholesterol are risk factors for the disease, which leads to high blood pressure, strokes, heart attacks, blindness, kidney failure and possible amputation of the lower extremities.

The new process, which is described in U.S. Patent #6,689,938, is for treatment of diabetes by administering an antagonist of MSH. The patent covers the use of a whole class of MSH antagonists, chemicals that either remove the hormone from the system or which block the action of MSH in the bloodstream.

"Because type II diabetes is essentially an insensitivity to insulin action, we can now circumvent this resistance by working on the glucagon half of the circuit," explains Brennan. "If you're insensitive to insulin, this approach may be able to bring you back into homeostasis by decreasing glucagon in the bloodstream."

Previous treatments for type II diabetes have focused on altering the amount of glucose in the bloodstream. Brennan and Hochgeschwender instead focused on regulating insulin resistance in genetically engineered mice by manipulating the amount of MSH in the bloodstream.

"It's a whole new way of looking at diabetes," say
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Contact: Warren Smith
wasmith@du.edu
303-871-2660
University of Denver
30-Mar-2004


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