Research team points to Sestrin 3 as a potential new target in diabetes

Investigators at Indiana University School of Medicine have added some fresh preclinical evidence to suggest that the protein Sestrin 3 could one day play a role in treating or preventing Type 2 diabetes. Using mouse models created with and without Sestrin 3, they say that the small protein group handled a high-fat diet with improved plasma glucose levels and insulin sensitivity. And the team is suggesting that this would make a natural target for drug developers in the field.

Sestrin 3 works by suppressing oxidative stress and regulating cellular activity, making it a strong player in metabolic homeostasis, says lead author X. Charlie Dong.

"We wanted to show that Sestrin 3 had critical liver-specific functions," Dong said in a statement. "This is a very fascinating protein. It's not very big, but it functions in a very dynamic manner controlling glucose production and insulin sensitivity. It is an important regulator for glucose homeostasis."

Diabetes is a huge and growing market for drug developers. But it's not an easy field to work in. Big players like Eli Lilly ($LLY), Sanofi ($SNY) and Novo Nordisk ($NVO) have to commit hundreds of millions of dollars to get their drugs through massive late-stage trials. And even a hint of safety concerns for drugs intended for prolonged use by millions can be the kiss of death.

As a result, animal research can be a useful start in finding new therapies, but any subsequent journey through the clinic will be long and expensive.

- here's the release
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