Scientists have found that some drugs from a group of anti-diabetic treatments may, in certain circumstances, act on glucagon receptors in the body, meaning that they could also potentially enable the release of sugar into the bloodstream.
A gap in scientific knowledge about a family of drugs that are used to treat Type 2 diabetes has been highlighted in a new study.
Researchers behind the study say that while their results are speculative at this stage, they point to a lack of complete information about the potential impact of a group of treatments known as GLP-1 agonists, or incretin mimetics.
In particular, their survey found that one such treatment has the hitherto unrecognised potential to activate receptor sites for the hormone, glucagon. This can promote the release of sugars into the blood, which is a process that GLP-1 agonists are supposed to prevent.
The paper, which is published in The Journal Of Biological Chemistry, stresses that these are only initial findings, and that more in-depth research will be needed before “definitive conclusions can be drawn” about the existing results.
The researchers also say that there is no evidence that existing GLP-1 agonists are in any way dangerous for patients, but they do call for a more comprehensive approach to testing new drugs of this type, before they are released on to the market.
The work was carried out by a team of researchers, led by academics from the University of Cambridge and the University of Warwick. Dr Graham Ladds, from the Department of Pharmacology and St John’s College, University of Cambridge, said: “What we have shown is that we need a more complete understanding of how anti-diabetic drugs interact with receptors in different parts of our bodies.”