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Chinese Extract May Yield Diabetes Treatment

Traditional Chinese Medicine is fast emerging as one of the most potent treatment for diabetes. A new research report published by Bradford B. Lowell from Harvard Medical School, Michael Wheeler from University of Toronto, and Chen-Yu Zhang from Nanjing University, show that Gardenia fruit extract can effectively help treat type II diabetes. The fruit extract contains a chemical that can aid in overturning pancreatic malfunction.

Diabetes is caused by abnormalities in pancreatic cells, especially the insulin producing beta cells. Type II diabetes often results from the pancreas' inability to produce enough insulin. This shortage of insulin is attributed to the presence of a substance known as uncoupling protein 2 (UCP2). Presently, different diabetes therapies are focused only on controlling the disease. However, with this new extract, Diabetes may one day become a fully reversible disease.

Researchers conducted laboratory tests on two groups of mice. The extract stimulated pancreas cells taken from normal mice to secrete insulin. However, cells from mice engineered to lack UCP2 didn't respond. These results suggested that the extract contained the UCP2 inhibitor that the researchers were seeking.

After further analysis of the extract, the researchers have attributed the UCP2 inhibiting action to genipin, a small molecule isolated from the fruit extract. Researchers further report that adding genipin to isolated pancreatic tissue reverses high glucose and obesity-induced dysfunction of insulin-producing beta cells. The fact that a derivative of genipin that lacked the chemical's cross-linking activity continued to inhibit UCP2 presents great scope for developing genipin-related compounds for therapeutic use. Researchers, however, point out that further work will be needed to examine whether inhibition of UCP2 itself might also have some negative consequences.

It is likely to take some time and further research before we see a new stream of drugs for treatment of diabetes. The research findings, however, do send a direct message of hope to all those waiting for a cure for diabetes.

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