A new diabetes drug which is activated by light, with few side effects will transform treatment for the condition.
It is said that the type-2 diabetes drug controls the insulin release as required and it carries none of the risks linked to current therapies.
Existing medication often causes heart and brain damage or it stimulates the release of insulin which causes a drastic drop in blood sugar levels.
The new drug is able to be switched on with a light, by the patient, which improves the treatment.
The head of the research from the Department of Medicine at Imperial College London, Dr David Hodson, said the new therapy may allow for better control of blood sugar levels because it can be turned on for a short period of time, when required after meals. He said it will also reduce complications as it can target drug activity to where it is required in the pancreas.
He added that they have thus far created a molecule in the lab, which offers the desired effect on human pancreatic cells. However, there is still a long road ahead before the therapy will become available to patients.
To try and create safer and improved drugs, the Imperial researchers and colleagues based at LMU Munich in Germany adjusted an existing drug called sulfonylurea to allow for it to be activated when exposed to blue light.
In theory, a patient could turn it on by using blue LEDs stuck to their skin. The drug turns off when the light is turned off.
In a study which has been published in the journal Nature Communications, the researchers showed that their prototype drug, JB253, stimulates the release of insulin from the pancreatic cells in the body.
Image Credit: Oskar Annermarken