The Oklahoma Medical Research Foundation has patented a method of reducing insulin resistance that could lead to treatments for the most common form of diabetes. OMRF has also received a related patent for showing how a hormone causes fat to metabolize, triggering weight loss.
The first patent, jointly issued to OMRF and to the Eleanor Roosevelt Institute of Denver University, is for the treatment of type II diabetes, also known as adult-onset diabetes. The new treatment approaches focus on counteracting the diabetic effects of a hormone (known as MSH) that plays a key role in the onset of the disease.
Type II diabetes, which affects as many as 86,000 Oklahomans, occurs when the body becomes resistant to insulin, preventing it from storing glucose, which can cause heart disease, stroke, blindness, kidney failure and lower-limb amputations.
Previous treatments for type II diabetes have focused on altering the amount of glucose in the bloodstream. But OMRF’s Ute Hochgeschwender, M.D., and Denver University’s Miles Brennan, Ph.D., co-inventors on the patents, took a different path.
“Using genetically engineered mice, we focused on regulating insulin resistance by manipulating the amount of MSH in the bloodstream available for increasing insulin resistance,” said Hochgeschwender. “We found that this approach was successful in controlling type II diabetes in the mice.”
The patent covers the use of a whole class of chemicals that block the diabetic action of MSH in the bloodstream. The patents also include a method for identifying compounds useful for reducing insulin resistance in patients who are obese or suffer from type II diabetes.
“We hope that our work will lead not only to new ways of understanding how diabetes works but also to new methods of treating the disease,” said Hochgeschwender.
The second patent covers a method of reducing obesity by administering chemicals that mimic the fat-burning actions of MSH. When given to mice, these compounds caused the animals’ bodies to metabolize stored fat, and the mice lost weight with no apparent ill effects. Hochgeschwender believes the compounds hold significant potential for treating human obesity, a condition that affects more than 60 million Americans and approximately 700,000 Oklahomans.
“The next step,” said Hochgeschwender, “will be licensing these discoveries and working with a pharmaceutical company to develop and test clinical therapies.”
OMRF (www.omrf.org) is a nonprofit biomedical research institute dedicated to understanding and curing human disease. Its scientists focus on such critical research areas as Alzheimer’s disease, cancer, lupus and cardiovascular disease. OMRF is home to Oklahoma’s only Howard Hughes Medical Institute investigator and only member of the National Academy of Sciences in the area of biomedical research.