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Scientists discover new promising target for diabetes treatment

Researchers have found a druggable insulin inhibitory receptor named inceptor that could provide a drug target for diabetes.

Diabetes

Researchers have discovered a novel and druggable insulin inhibitory receptor named inceptor. The scientists from the study say that this is a significant milestone for diabetes research as the blocking of inceptor function leads to an increased sensitisation of the insulin signalling pathway in pancreatic beta cells. This might allow protection and regeneration of beta cells for diabetes remission.

The study was conducted at Helmholtz Zentrum Muenchen, the Technical University of Munich and the German Center for Diabetes Research, all Germany. 

Professor Heiko Lickert, the lead researcher, focused on the development of regenerative approaches to treat diabetes complementary and alternative to the classical immunological and metabolic therapies.

Diabetes

Model of insulin inhibitory receptor ‘inceptor’ (in black) desensetising the insulin receptor (in colour) on a pancreatic beta cell. Insulin in blue [credit: Helmholtz Zentrum München].

“Insulin resistance in pancreatic beta cells causes diabetes. Therapies that sensitise those cells to insulin may protect patients with the condition against beta cell loss and failure,” said Lickert. 

In experiments with mice, the researchers showed that the function of inceptor is to shield the insulin-producing beta cells from constitutive insulin pathway activation. They also found that inceptor is upregulated in diabetes and by blocking insulin signalling, it might contribute to insulin resistance. Next, the group knocked out inceptor in beta cells and blocked its function using monoclonal antibodies.

“The result was exactly what we were hoping for: insulin signalling and the functional beta cell mass was increased. This makes inceptor a very promising target to treat the root cause of diabetes, the loss and dysfunction of beta cells,” said Ansarullah, one of the first-authors of the study. 

“Our goal for future research is to leverage on the discovery of inceptor and develop drugs for beta cell regeneration. This could be beneficial for patients with type 1 and 2 diabetes and ultimately lead to diabetes remission,” stated Lickert.

The results of the study are published in Nature.

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