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A ton of bitter melon produces sweet results for diabetes
Date:3/27/2008

Scientists have uncovered the therapeutic properties of bitter melon, a vegetable and traditional Chinese medicine, that make it a powerful treatment for Type 2 diabetes.

Teams from the Garvan Institute of Medical Research and the Shanghai Institute of Materia Medica pulped roughly a tonne of fresh bitter melon and extracted four very promising bioactive components. These four compounds all appear to activate the enzyme AMPK, a protein well known for regulating fuel metabolism and enabling glucose uptake. The results are published online today in the international journal Chemistry & Biology.

We can now understand at a molecular level why bitter melon works as a treatment for diabetes, said Professor David James, Director of the Diabetes and Obesity Program at Garvan. By isolating the compounds we believe to be therapeutic, we can investigate how they work together in our cells.

People with Type 2 diabetes have an impaired ability to convert the sugar in their blood into energy in their muscles. This is partly because they dont produce enough insulin, and partly because their fat and muscle cells dont use insulin effectively, a phenomenon known as insulin resistance.

Exercise activates AMPK in muscle, which in turn mediates the movement of glucose transporters to the cell surface, a very important step in the uptake of glucose from the circulation into tissues in the body. This is a major reason that exercise is recommended as part of the normal treatment program for someone with Type 2 diabetes.

The four compounds isolated in bitter melon perform a very similar action to that of exercise, in that they activate AMPK.

Garvan scientists involved in the project, Drs Jiming Ye and Nigel Turner, both stress that while there are well known diabetes drugs on the market that also activate AMPK, they can have side effects.

The advantage of bitter melon is that there are no known side effects, said Dr Ye.
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Contact: Alison Heather
a.heather@garvan.org.au
61-292-958-128
Research Australia
Source:Eurekalert

Page: 1 2

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