By inhibiting the expression of a gene called sirtuin 1, Yale researchers have been able to reduce blood glucose levels, decrease the liver’s production of glucose, and increase insulin sensitivity in rats conditioned to exhibit type 2 symptoms. A happy byproduct of their research is a simultaneous lowering of cholesterol levels.
The Yale School of Medicine researchers put the lab rats on a four-week diet of fructose and high-fat meals to induce a metabolic condition that closely resembles type 2 diabetes, including high blood glucose levels and insulin resistance. Then they injected the animals with fragments of a nucleic acid that inhibits gene expression, targeting the sirtuin 1 gene, which controls a liver enzyme that affects glucose production. The intervention dropped the rats’ blood glucose levels down to close to normal and restored most of their insulin sensitivity.
The team’s results could lead to a promising a new tool for the treatment of type 2 diabetes. Gene inhibition therapy is emerging as a powerful approach that can take direct control of metabolic functions and make the body stop or start desired behaviors.