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Mode of action for diabetes drug

Researchers have discovered a mechanism that may explain how the frontline type 2 diabetes drug metformin works to help cells better take up and use glucose.

The findings could potentially help explain metformin’s action in preventing a variety of chronic diseases, including cancers.

Scientists at the Francis Crick Institute and University of Montreal developed a new method that analyses how all of a cell’s biochemical processes respond to a particular drug at the same time.

The technology measures changes in the binding properties of all proteins to each other simultaneously. This enables scientists to identify molecular signatures that reveal how drugs influence cells.

This was applied to two metabolic drugs, one with a known mechanism of action, the immunosuppressant, rapamycin, and one with no known mechanism of action, metformin.

They found that metformin makes yeast cells act as if they are starved of the essential mineral iron. Further analysis revealed that metformin has a global effect on iron distributions in cells, which has a knock-on impact on iron-dependent biochemical processes.

Picture credit | Science Photo Library

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