News of the WeekCell Biology

New Clues Found to Diabetes and Obesity

Science  05 Mar 1999:
Vol. 283, Issue 5407, pp. 1423-1425
DOI: 10.1126/science.283.5407.1423

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In work described on page 1544, researchers have identified a major new target for drugs aimed at treating type 2 diabetes--and possibly for anti-obesity drugs as well. The team made found that mice that have been genetically modified so that they can't make an enzyme called phosphotyrosine phosphatase IB (PTP-IB) showed increased sensitivity to insulin, an intriguing finding since type 2 diabetes is thought to be due to decreased sensitivity to the hormone. In addition, the animals proved resistant to the obesity usually induced by a high fat diet. It's currently unclear whether PTP-1B abnormalities play a causative role in diabetes or obesity, but even if they don't, it might be possible to treat the conditions with drugs that inhibit the enzyme's activity.