The researchers say their findings, published in the May issue of PLoS ONE, could lay the foundation for a new class of drugs for treating diabetes. The tiny molecules they developed work by inhibiting a powerful molecular machine known as insulin-degrading enzyme (IDE) from chewing up the insulin hormone. That keeps insulin in the body longer to help remove glucose (simple food sugar) from the blood.
The discovery may lead to drugs that diabetics can use to help insulin work better and longer, says the study’s lead researcher, Malcolm Leissring, Ph.D., from Mayo Clinic’s Department of Neuroscience. Diabetes affects over 200 million people worldwide, and the incidence is growing at an alarming rate, so new treatments are greatly needed, he says.
IDE is a protease, an enzyme that chops proteins or peptides into smaller pieces. According to Dr. Leissring, inhibitors have been developed for practically all biomedically important proteases in the body. “It was very surprising that IDE inhibitors had not been developed before, particularly given IDE’s special relationship with insulin, a very important hormone,” he says.
This was especially puzzling because IDE was discovered more than 60 years ago. In fact, finding an IDE inhibitor was a major goal of diabetes research in the 1950s. In a landmark study, one group of early researchers managed to purify a naturally occurring IDE inhibitor, and showed that it made insulin more effective at lowering blood glucose in animals, precisely the desired effect for treating diabetes. However, the composition of the agent was never determined.
The research team initially tried to find IDE inhibitors using sophisticated technologies. They used robots to test hundreds of thousands of compounds at the Laboratory for Drug Discovery in Neurodegeneration (LDDN), a part of Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Harvard Medical School. Surprisingly, these modern methods did not identify any good inhibitors, Dr. Leissring says.
“Our robots wound up being powerless for tackling this particular problem,” he says. “Ironically, it was an old-fashioned method that made this breakthrough possible.”
The old-fashioned approach involved using a technology invented in 1950 to figure which peptide sequence — among trillions of possible combinations — IDE chops up most efficiently. Benjamin Turk, Ph.D., of Yale University School of Medicine, conducted this critical step. Then, a team of chemists led by Gregory Cuny, Ph.D., director of Medicinal Chemistry at the LDDN, generated a compound that contained the preferred peptide sequence, together with a special chemical group that binds to zinc. The resulting compound is called “Ii1” (IDE inhibitor 1).
Ii1 is about a million times more potent than any previous IDE inhibitors, but additional work will be needed to turn it into a drug suitable for therapeutic use, Dr. Leissring says. In a key step towards this goal, Dr. Leissring, together with Wei-Jen Tang, Ph.D., and other colleagues from the University of Chicago, solved the 3-dimensional crystal structure of Ii1 bound to IDE. This crystal structure will facilitate the development of inhibitors that are more stable in the body than Ii1 is predicted to be.
The structure of IDE is unlike other proteases, the researchers say. It is shaped like a hinged clamshell that opens and shuts, like the well-known video game protagonist, Pac-Man.
The researchers found from their crystal structure that the Ii1 peptide acts like a magnetic latch that holds the clamshell shut. “Think of a coin purse that uses a magnet at the top to keep the purse from opening up,” Dr. Leissring says. “Ii1 is analogous to the magnetic latch, holding the two halves of IDE closed.”
If IDE is inhibited, insulin remains in the body longer. Normally, about half of the insulin produced by the pancreas is immediately destroyed by the liver; no one knows why this occurs but it may be a way to regulate how much insulin enters the bloodstream, he says.
IDE inhibitors would slow the rate of this initial destruction. However, according to a surprising finding from the study, they would also help prevent degradation of insulin at the “destination” cells that are responsible for removing sugar from the bloodstream. “When insulin reaches cells, it is normally destroyed very rapidly by IDE. We show that when you stop that process with an IDE inhibitor, insulin stays around longer inside the cell, allowing the hormone to function more efficiently,” Dr. Leissring says.
IDE inhibitors may also be beneficial for other diseases besides diabetes, the researchers suggest. “Insulin is involved in a surprisingly wide range of important processes, including memory and cognition, so IDE inhibitors may turn out to have multiple uses. They also will be very valuable as tools for basic research,” says Dr. Leissring.
The study was funded by grants from the National Institutes for Health, the Ellison Medical Foundation, and by a gift from The Unforgettable Fund, a charitable foundation based in Palm Beach County, Fla.
Scientists from The Scripps Research Institute also participated in the study.About Mayo Clinic
Kevin Punsky | Newswise Science News
Study tracks inner workings of the brain with new biosensor
16.08.2018 | Rheinische Friedrich-Wilhelms-Universität Bonn
Foods of the future
15.08.2018 | Georg-August-Universität Göttingen
There are currently great hopes for solid-state batteries. They contain no liquid parts that could leak or catch fire. For this reason, they do not require cooling and are considered to be much safer, more reliable, and longer lasting than traditional lithium-ion batteries. Jülich scientists have now introduced a new concept that allows currents up to ten times greater during charging and discharging than previously described in the literature. The improvement was achieved by a “clever” choice of materials with a focus on consistently good compatibility. All components were made from phosphate compounds, which are well matched both chemically and mechanically.
The low current is considered one of the biggest hurdles in the development of solid-state batteries. It is the reason why the batteries take a relatively long...
New design tool automatically creates nanostructure 3D-print templates for user-given colors
Scientists present work at prestigious SIGGRAPH conference
Most of the objects we see are colored by pigments, but using pigments has disadvantages: such colors can fade, industrial pigments are often toxic, and...
Scientists at the University of California, Los Angeles present new research on a curious cosmic phenomenon known as "whistlers" -- very low frequency packets...
Scientists develop first tool to use machine learning methods to compute flow around interactively designable 3D objects. Tool will be presented at this year’s prestigious SIGGRAPH conference.
When engineers or designers want to test the aerodynamic properties of the newly designed shape of a car, airplane, or other object, they would normally model...
Researchers from TU Graz and their industry partners have unveiled a world first: the prototype of a robot-controlled, high-speed combined charging system (CCS) for electric vehicles that enables series charging of cars in various parking positions.
Global demand for electric vehicles is forecast to rise sharply: by 2025, the number of new vehicle registrations is expected to reach 25 million per year....
17.08.2018 | Event News
08.08.2018 | Event News
27.07.2018 | Event News
21.08.2018 | Ecology, The Environment and Conservation
21.08.2018 | Life Sciences
21.08.2018 | Power and Electrical Engineering