Diabetes: scientists discover new possible therapy to limit insulin collateral damage

A protein that can act as a regulator of blood sugar and lipids under certain conditions has been identified by a group of researchers at the University of Geneva (UNIGE). The protein, called S100A9, could counteract the side effects of insulin given to diabetics.

The study, published in Nature Communications, mentions what could be a new treatment for diabetes and in general to significantly improve the quality of daily life of tens of millions of people. In fact, millions of people have to use insulin injections for both type 1 and type 2 diabetes. Any overdose can trigger hypoglycemia, the drop in blood glucose levels, while an overdose can lead to hyperglycemia.

By performing experiments on mice, the scientists found that by administering doses of S100A9 to diabetic deficient insulin-deficient rats, improved glucose management and better ketone and lipid control were achieved. They then discovered that this protein appears to work only when there is TLR4, a receptor placed on the membrane of certain cells, including adipocytes and cells of the immune system.

Now Roberto Coppari, one of the authors of the study together with Giorgio Ramadori, intends to understand with his team how the S100A9 protein works. In this regard, they are devising a new treatment that combines low doses of insulin and S100A9 to determine whether glucose and ketones can be better controlled and limit the same negative side effect as insulin.

“We also want to decipher the exact role of TLR4 in order to offer a therapeutic strategy that achieves the delicate balance between optimal blood glucose, ketones and lipid control,” explains Coppari himself.

Oxytocin in babies is influenced by the behaviour of the mother

A new study analyzes the development of oxytocin in the body of children, a development that can be influenced by the behavior of mothers themselves. Oxytocin is an important hormone linked mainly to social interaction and plays this role in many mammals. This same hormone, as reported in the press release presenting the study on the Max Planck Society website, elaborates trust levels and relationships and can also be triggered with a simple visual contact or a touch.

In the new epigenetic study, conducted by researchers Kathleen Krol and Jessica Connelly of the University of Virginia and Tobias Grossmann of the Max Planck Institute for Human Cognitive and Cerebral Sciences, researchers show that mothers’ behavior itself can have a significant influence on the development of oxytocin in children.

As Grossmann himself explains, it is already known that oxytocin is involved in the first social processes of the child and may in the long run also influence social behavior later, the more complex ones. The researcher himself explains the meaning of the research they produced: “However, in this study, we asked ourselves whether the mother’s behavior could have a decisive influence on the development of the child’s oxytocin system. The advances in molecular biology, in particular epigenetics, have recently allowed us to study the interaction between nature and breeding, in this case, the care of children, down to the smallest detail. This is exactly what we did here.”

The researchers analyzed various saliva samples taken from the mother and child when he was five months old and then a year later when he was 18 months, all while observing free play interactions between the mothers and the children themselves. According to Krol, the results show that “The oxytocin receptor is essential for the hormone oxytocin to exert its effects and the gene can determine how many are produced.”

In general, the results of this study show that people do not interact with each other simply based on genetics but that the same interaction is based on a balance between genetics and experiences. This means that the first social interactions that the child may have, even with a breeder who is not a parent, can strongly influence biological and psychological development through changes in oxytocin.