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:

World Wrap

Reuters Showcase

Photo

Vodafone Tax Case

India's Vodafone decision eases tax worries for Shell, others  Full Article 

Facebook Earnings

Facebook Earnings

Facebook tops Wall Street revenue target in 4th quarter.  Full Article 

Japanese Hostage

Japanese Hostage

Islamic State said to set new deadline for hostage swap  Full Article 

Cricket World Cup

Cricket World Cup

Batting holds key for team India in World Cup  Full Article 

Photo

Australian Open

Serena fends off Keys to book blockbuster Sharapova final   Full Article | Related Story 

Road To Development

Road To Development

Build better roads in developing world to bolster food supplies - study  Full Article 

Photo

Laser Pioneer Dies

Laser's co-inventor, Nobel laureate Charles Townes, dead at 99  Full Article 

New ODI Record

New ODI Record

Sri Lanka's Sangakkara breaks ODI record for dismissals  Full Article 

Rohingya Muslims

Rohingya Muslims

Rohingya refugees say traffickers in Malaysia abuse and kill.  Full Article 

Reuters India Mobile

Reuters India Mobile

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