Scientists have deployed a new drug discovery technique to identify an anti-diabetes compound with a novel mechanism of action.
The finding by the Scripps Research Institute (TSRI), US, may lead to a new type of diabetes treatment by enabling researchers quickly find drug candidates that activate cellular receptors in desired ways.
"In principle, we can apply this technique to hundreds of other receptors like the one we targeted in this study to find disease treatments that are more potent and have fewer side effects than existing therapies," explained Patricia H McDonald, an assistant professor at TSRI.
For the study, the team used the technique to target a receptor linked to Type-2 diabetes.
The GLP-1 receptor, as it is known, is expressed by insulin-producing "beta cells" in the pancreas.
Several drugs that activate this receptor are already approved for treating Type-2 diabetes.
In this case, the team's aim was to find a molecule that activates the GLP-1 receptor in a unique way.
Using the new technology, researchers eventually isolated one molecule called P5 that potently and selectively activated the GLP-1 receptor's G-protein pathway.
An initial test in healthy mice showed that P5 worked well at boosting glucose tolerance.
The team will now look for opportunities to develop P5 into a new diabetes drug.
The study appeared in the journal Nature Communications.