New research from the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai has found that a combination of two different types of drugs can help restore insulin production in diabetes patients. Normally, the insulin-producing beta cells located in the pancreas are incapable of producing insulin anymore, with diabetes patients having to rely either on insulin injections (as in case of Type 1 diabetes) or take drugs to manage the condition.
Scientists have found that combined two types of drugs, DYRK1A inhibitors and GLP-1 receptor agonists, are able to help the beta cells regenerate at a remarkable rate. In human cell samples, the combination of these two drug types ended up resulting in a 40% average increase in the number of functioning human beta cells. After successfully testing this in both tissue samples as well as mice, the scientists believe that these findings could lead to a new class of diabetes treatment.
“We are very excited about this new drug combination because for the first time ever, we are able to see rates of human beta cell replication that are sufficient to replenish beta cell mass in humans with diabetes,” said Andrew Stewart, M.D., the lead author of the study.
Other diabetes treatments
Most prescribed diabetes medications fall under the classification of GLP-1 receptor antagonists. They work by stimulating the insulin production of the remaining healthy beta cells in a patient. These include drugs such as Eli Lilly's (NYSE:LLY) Trulicity, AstraZeneca's (NASDAQ:AZN) Bydureon, as well as Novo Nordisk's (NYSE:NVO) Victoza.
Other biotech companies, such as Semma Therapeutics, have been working on turning human stem cells into functioning insulin-producing cells. Semma was acquired by Vertex Pharmaceuticals back in September 2019.