New Lead Found to a Possible 'Insulin Pill'

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Science  07 May 1999:
Vol. 284, Issue 5416, pp. 886
DOI: 10.1126/science.284.5416.886a

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A team of researchers has found that a lowly fungus called Pseudomassaria that grows deep in the African forests near Kinshasa produces a unique agent that could lead to a new type of antidiabetes pill. In work reported on page 974, the team gave the compound to mutant mice with symptoms similar to those of patients suffering from adult onset or type 2 diabetes. The agent reduced these symptoms in the animals, the researchers found, apparently by tweaking the same cellular receptor that insulin acts on. But, unlike insulin, the fungal compound is not a protein and, thus, could likely withstand the body's potent digestive juices.