Beyond insulin for treating diabetes-related symptoms

Hyderabad: Diabetes is one of the most rampant diseases worldwide affecting millions every year, with >60 million affected in India alone. It is a metabolic disorder with a defect in insulin production, secretion or action which consequently results in high blood glucose levels.

Various kinds of cellular stresses can result in loss of structure and function of insulin, ultimately leading to diabetes. At present, the processes regulating insulin synthesis, maturation, secretion and signaling in diabetes are not completely understood. Dr Yogendra Sharma from CSIR-CCMB, Hyderabad and his colleagues, Anand Sharma, Radhika Khandelwal and Amrutha Chidananda have demonstrated the role of a protein secretagogin (SCGN) in increasing insulin action in obesity-induced diabetes. They show that SCGN binds to insulin, and protects it from various stresses, increases its stability and adds to its action.

CCMB scientists have shown injection of SCGN (found at lower levels in diabetic patients) in obese diabetic mice clears excess insulin from circulation, and reduces fat mass. SCGN treated animals also had lower levels of harmful LDL-cholesterol and lower lipid accumulation in liver cells.These findings, published in the latest issue of the journal iScience, establish SCGN as a functional insulin-binding protein with therapeutic potential against diabetes.

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Diabetes and neurodegenerative disorders such as dementia and Alzheimer’s disease are often linked with each other. SCGN is found in lower quantities in the brains of Alzheimer’s patients. In a parallel study also recently published in Biochemistry, Dr Sharma’s group has also shown SCGN’s role in preventing formation of alpha-synuclein protein fibrils – a precursor for many neurodegenerative diseases. Dr Sharma says, “SCGN would soon become a diagnostic marker, and one should check its potential in diabetes management.”

“While studying calcium-binding properties of SCGN, CCMB scientists have discovered a novel function of this protein in diabetes biology, yet another example of how quality basic science can lead to valuable applications” says Dr Rakesh Mishra, Director, CCMB.

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