Grand Rapids, Mich. (November 21, 2011) A Van Andel Research Institute (VARI) study published recently in the Journal of Biological Chemistry reveals that a natural fatty acid can serve as a regulator of blood sugar levels, which may have important applications in designing better and safer drugs for diabetes treatment.
According to the U.S. Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), nearly 26 million Americans have diabetes, and current drugs commonly used to treat the disease sometimes have unwanted side effects.
The study found that decanoic acid, a saturated fatty acid, acts as a modulator of a sub-family of nuclear receptors (peroxisome proliferator-activated or PPAR receptors) that play a key role in glucose and lipid metabolism.
Decanoic acid, also known as "Capric acid," occurs naturally in coconut oil and palm kernel oil, as well as in the milk and animal fats of some mammals. It is used in organic synthesis and is common in the manufacture of perfumes, lubricants, greases, rubber, dyes, plastics, food additives and pharmaceuticals.
"We studied a nuclear receptor (PPARγ) that plays a key role in glucose and lipid metabolism and is the molecular target of the thiazolidinedione (TZD) class of antidiabetic drugs, which have been shown to have negative side effects such as weight gain, fluid retention, and increased risk for cardiovascular diseases," said H. Eric Xu, Ph.D., Director of VARI's Center for Structural Biology and Drug Discovery. "Our results showed that decanoic acid could be used in designing better and safer PPARγ based drugs."
Xu's laboratory uses a technique known as X-ray crystallography to determine exactly how and why the drug compounds work in molecular detail, which can then help drug developers engineer more potent drugs that have fewer unwanted side effects. The lab has previously published studies that could impact a variety of diseases, including osteoporosis, dia
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Van Andel Research Institute