Comment »Posted on Monday 29 June 2009 at 10:39 pm by Emma Stokes
In Biology, Health & Medicine

Blocking the action of a gene called Sirtuin-1 reduced the symptoms of type 2 diabetes in rats, scientists have found.

People with Type 2 diabetes suffer from high blood glucose concentrations due to insulin resistance and increased glucose production. To create a similar condition in rats, the researchers put a group of rats on a four-week diet of high-fat, fructose-rich meals.

Sirtuin-1 is a gene responsible for regulating glucose production in the liver. The researchers therefore then blocked Sirtuin-1 in the ‘diabetic’ rats by injecting them with a fragment of genetic information. This fragment – called an antisense oligonucleotide – interrupts and blocks gene expression and can be targeted to specific genes.

After Sirtuin-1 inhibition, the rats were more sensitive and responsive to insulin. The rate of glucose production fell back to normal levels, resulting in a decrease in the blood plasma. Thus the scientists believe the Sirtuin-1 gene is a cause of type 2 diabetes symptoms.

The results of this study are consistent with a recent mouse study which showed that decreased expression of Sirtuin-1 led to better insulin sensitivity. The next step is to develop inhibitors targeted to Sirtuin-1 in the liver, these will be tested in rats before moving on to primates and human clinical trials if successful.

For more information on animal research and this story, please see the Understanding Animal Research site.

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