Insulin "handshake" may do away with injections: study

SYDNEY Thu Jan 10, 2013 5:52pm IST

Type 1 diabetic Tamara Khachatoorian, 26, holds her bottles of insulin at the J.W.C.H. safety-net clinic in the center of skid row in downtown Los Angeles, July 30, 2007. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson/Files

Type 1 diabetic Tamara Khachatoorian, 26, holds her bottles of insulin at the J.W.C.H. safety-net clinic in the center of skid row in downtown Los Angeles, July 30, 2007.

Credit: Reuters/Lucy Nicholson/Files

Related Topics

SYDNEY (Reuters) - Australian scientists have discovered how insulin is taken up by cells, potentially opening the way for new drugs for diabetes patients that can be administered without injection.

The team, whose findings appeared in Nature, solved the puzzle of how the hormone insulin binds to its receptor in cells - a process necessary for cells to take up sugar from the blood and essential for treating diabetes.

"All of that (previous) work has taken place without a detailed picture of how insulin actually interacts with the cell and tells that cell to take up glucose from the blood," leading scientist Mike Lawrence, at Australia's Walter and Eliza Hall Institute in Melbourne, told Reuters.

"What we've done is providing that picture," he said of the three-dimensional view of insulin bound to its receptor that appeared in Nature on Thursday.

Researchers found that insulin engages its receptor in a very unusual way, with both insulin and its receptor rearranging themselves as they interact.

"A piece of insulin folds out and key pieces within the receptor move to engage the insulin hormone," Lawrence said in a statement. "You might call it a 'molecular handshake'."

Insulin controls the levels of glucose, or sugar, in the blood, a mechanism that breaks down in people with diabetes.

Understanding the insulin binding process could lead to new ways to deliver insulin other than by injection, or the development of more effective and longer-lasting insulin products, Lawrence said.

"This structure is going to be a reference point for all future design of insulin," he said.

"They (drug makers) are going to use that information...for the next generation of insulin delivery devices, etc."

There are now 371 million people living with diabetes globally, up from 366 million a year ago, according to the latest report by the International Diabetes Federation.

(Reporting By Maggie Lu Yueyang, editing by Elaine Lies)

FILED UNDER:
Comments (0)
This discussion is now closed. We welcome comments on our articles for a limited period after their publication.

  • Most Popular
  • Most Shared

GAZA VIOLENCE

WORLD SHOWCASE

MH17 Probe

MH17 Probe

Fighting complicates Ukraine crash probe, U.S., EU prepare Russia sanctions.  Full Article 

Diplomats' Return

Diplomats' Return

U.S. diplomats' return to Libya could be more hazardous than exit.  Full Article 

Ferry Disaster

Ferry Disaster

Associate of dead S.Korea ferry boss arrested, children due to give evidence.  Full Article 

Chinese in Iraq

Chinese in Iraq

China says may have citizens fighting in Iraq.  Full Article 

Ukraine Crisis

Ukraine Crisis

Russia says Lavrov, Kerry agree on need for swift ceasefire in Ukraine.  Full Article 

Asylum Seekers

Asylum Seekers

Sri Lankan Asylum Seekers arrive in Australia after weeks held at sea  Full Article 

Disputed Waters

Disputed Waters

Battered and broke, Vietnam fishermen bear brunt of China row.  Full Article 

Reuters India Mobile

Reuters India Mobile

Get the latest news on the go. Visit Reuters India on your mobile device.  Full Coverage