Lucknow scientists find molecule that fights lifestyle diseases

Lucknow scientists find molecule that fights lifestyle diseases

A wonder molecule, isolated from a Himalayan tree, may hold the key to a new and efficient drug against diabetes and obesity.

The adiponectin hormone was discovered more than 15 years ago. But despite a large number of laboratory studies demonstrating its potential as a drug candidate, the molecule could not be exploited because of the logistical problems in creating the drug in laboratories.

Indian researchers have now come up with a solution to the problem. They have isolated a molecule from the Himalayan Elm tree that mimics adiponectin. The molecule is orally active, which means it can be developed as an orally consumable medicine.

The drug candidate was isolated from the stem-bark of Kashmir Elm, a tree found in mountains from Afghanistan to Nepal, including Kumaon and Garhwal in India. The tree grows at elevations of 800-3,000 m.

“Initial studies suggest that our molecule (called GTDF based on its long and complicated chemical name) is non-toxic. But we would prefer to do preclinical trial jointly with a company in large animals,” team leader Sabyasachi Sanyal from the Central Drug Research Institute (CDRI), Lucknow, told Deccan Herald.

Laboratory studies so far have demonstrated the molecule’s ability to tackle lifestyle diseases like diabetes, insulin resistance and obesity. However, it is early days as the drug development process can take anything between 15 and 20 years from the initial leads.

“It is an interesting piece of work that shows GTDF is an orally active adiponectin-receptor activator. The studies will prove a panacea in treating obesity as well as diabetes,” said Avadesha Surolia, an Indian Institute of Science professor not associated with the study.

The CDRI findings have been accepted for publication in American Diabetes Association journal Diabetes.

The Lucknow team stumbled upon the new properties of GTDF while researching on it as a bone-fracture-healing agent.

The same CDRI team in 2012 had reported on the new-bone-forming properties of GTDF, because of which it is being developed as an oral medicine for bone fracture. The technology was transferred to a US company, Kemextree, for drug development.

“While trying to decipher how it conducts its bone-forming activity, we identified it as an orally active small molecule that mimics the action of the hormone adiponectin,” said Sanyal.

The CDRI scientists further studied the compound's medicinal properties in collaboration with the Zydus Research Centre, Ahmedabad, and the Sanjay Gandhi Post Graduate Institute of Medical Sciences, Lucknow.