A drug commonly used in treating opioid addiction has the potential to be used in management of type 2 diabetes, according to a new study by a team of researchers from IIT-Mandi, CSIR-IITR Lucknow and SRM University.
The drug called low-dose naltrexone (LDN) can activate a certain protein molecule in the body which ultimately helps in lowering insulin resistance, according to the study published in the Journal of Biological Chemistry.
Insulin resistance occurs when cells in the body lose their ability to use insulin – a hormone which helps the cells to absorb glucose from the blood (ie blood sugar derived from the food). If not reversed, insulin resistance can lead to type 2 diabetes.
Insulin resistance is linked to another condition called hyperinsulinemia in which there is excess insulin circulating in the bloodstream, and both these conditions reinforce each other.
The researchers claim to have solved the mystery of how this excess insulin, or hyperinsulinemia, increases insulin resistance. They identified a protein called SIRT1 which gets repressed in hyperinsulinemia. A decrease in SIRT1 activates another protein called NF-κB which instigates inflammation in the body and thus, causes insulin resistance.
On the other hand, the researchers found that the drug LDN activates the SIRT1 protein, and thus, helps in increasing the insulin sensitivity of cells.
“Based on these findings, we propose that LDN, an FDA- approved non-peptide opioid antagonist, may be used as an anti-inflammatory drug in the treatment for insulin resistance,” the study said.
“Naltrexone at low doses could potentially restore some of the diabetes-associated events in cellular and animal models,” said Dr Prosenjit Mondal from IIT-Mandi’s School of Basic Sciences, the corresponding author of the study.
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