An experimental drug may help curb blood sugar of patients with type2 diabetes without causing it to drop to extremely low levels.
In a new study, a team of researchers has discovered that the compound–dubbed TTP399–improved the blood sugar control of patients, when it was added to metformin, the first-line medication for type 2 diabetes, for 6 months.
Most interestingly, it helped control the blood sugar without causing hypoglycemia in which blood sugar decreases, if severe, can lead to loss of consciousness or convulsions.
Findings of the research are detailed in a paper featured in the journal Science Translational Medicine.
The study extends a previous ‘phase 2’ trial and more research is required before the compound can be added to existing medication of type 2 diabetes, according to senior researcher Carmen Valcarce, chief scientific officer at vTv Therapeutics which is based in North Carolina and develops TTP399.
However, she said that the effects observed so far on patient’s blood sugar control are comparable to or even more improved than the effects of existing medications for the disease.
As reported by American Diabetes Association, type 2 diabetes has affected more than 30 million people in the United States in 2015. It occurs when the body can longer utilize insulin, a hormone responsible for regulating sugar or glucose level in the blood. When the level of blood sugar habitually increases, over time, it can take a toll on the body, causing damage to nerves, blood vessels, heart, eyes, and kidneys.
Although there are various medications for the disease, there is still a need for additional and more effective options, Valcarce said.
TTP399 typically activates an enzyme called glucokinase which acts as a sensor for blood sugar. Other compounds developed to target this enzyme have been stymied by side effects including hypoglycemia and increases in blood fat called triglycerides.
Some of these compounds affected glucokinase in liver as well as pancreas and activation of the enzyme in the pancreas may have caused the blood sugar to drop, Valcarce said. So, TTP399 was designed to prevent such problems.
The researchers tested the compound in 190 study participants who had type 2 diabetes. All were under the medication of metformin; the researchers randomly assigned some patients to add a dose of TTP399 daily, while the rest added either sitagliptin (a diabetes drug) or inactive placebo pills.
After 6 months, patients who added the new compound showed a greater reduction in their A1C level compared to ones who took placebo pills. Researchers found no cases of extreme blood sugar drops or any negative effects on triglycerides.
Longer-term research are still required to determine the effectiveness and safety of the new drug.