Natural compound shows promise as a pathway to diabetes pill

The Sirt1 protein that has attracted millions of dollars in investments and spurred considerable discussion and debate on the potential role it plays in aging is now the focus of a group of investigators who see it as a potential key to treating Type 2 diabetes.  

Washington University School of Medicine Professor Shin-ichiro Imai says that his team used an enzyme dubbed NMN (a natural compound known as nicotinamide mononucleotide) to trigger a short chain reaction that boosts the level of Sirt1 in mice. And that process helped control blood sugar levels in the animal study.

"We found out that NMN, in some cases, almost completely normalized their problems in Type 2 diabetes, especially in the females," the professor tells the Voice of America. Now the team wants to see what effect long-term use of NMN will have on the diabetic mouse model, while trying to understand why the impact of the treatment is so much more apparent among females than males.

"I'm very excited to see these results because the effect of NMN is much bigger than other known compounds or chemicals," says postdoctoral research associate and first author Jun Yoshino. "Plus, the fact that the body naturally makes NMN is promising for translating these findings into humans."

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