Researchers have found that the drug DDP-4 drug used for Type 2 Diabetes can also be used to against low blood sugar levels, effectively stimulating insulin production in the body.
Known as Hypoglycaemia, the status of low blood sugar occurs in people with diabetes when they have eaten too little or after strenuous physical activity, as well as when they have taken too much insulin.
“If these inhibitors also prove effective in humans against low blood sugar, then this supports the idea that the area of application of these drugs could be broadened to include persons with diabetes that is difficult to control and suffer from frequent hypoglycaemias,” said Siri Malmgren, researcher at the Lund University, Sweden.
Normally, the body’s own defence mechanism against hypoglycaemia works via hormone glucagon, which stimulates the liver to produce sugar to raise blood sugar levels. But in diabetics, this regulation fails to work leading to the risk of low blood sugar.
In their study on mice, the researchers treated them with DPP-4 inhibitors and found that they have much better protection against hypoglycaemia too than mice that were not given DPP-4 inhibitors.
DPP-4 inhibitors stimulate the body’s own insulin production – which lowers blood sugar. But the drug works by raising the levels of another hormone – GIP – that is secreted in the intestines when we eat food.
Giving mice high doses of GIP hormone also protected them from hypoglycaemia and increased their glucagon levels. The researchers also said that the GIP was previously considered to be hypoglycaemic, in fact, blood sugar normalizing agent.
“Our findings could lead to new areas of application for existing drugs. We don’t know all there is to know about the medicines we have, and once we have full insight into their mechanisms of action we can use them more effectively,” Malmgren said.
The study has been published in the journal Diabetologia.