Blue light-activated diabetes drug could give patients more control

A type of drug that could be switched on by a blue light could help type 2 diabetes patients manage symptoms more effectively, according to new research published in Nature Communications.

The drug, known as JB253, would be inactive under normal circumstances, but a patient could switch it on using blue LEDs stuck to the skin, which would then stimulate insulin release from pancreatic cells.

"In principle, this type of therapy may allow better control over blood sugar levels because it can be switched on for a short time when required after a meal," said Dr. David Hodson, from the Department of Medicine at Imperial College London. "It should also reduce complications by targeting drug activity to where it's needed in the pancreas."

Light-reactive molecules

While molecules that react to light have been on scientists' radar since the 19th century, only in the last few years have researchers explored how their properties might be useful in drug therapies.

"Photoswitchable drugs and photopharmacology could be enormously useful for all sorts of diseases, by allowing remote control over specific body processes with light," said Professor Dirk Trauner, study co-author at LMU Munich.

Light-activated medications are still in the early stages of development, but further research could enable them to be a safer, more controllable version of therapy, the researchers said.

Source: Imperial College London
Photo credit: Danilo Rizzuti/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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