Researchers have developed a new mouse model, which answers the question of what actually happens in the body when type 2 diabetes develops and how the body responds to the medication.
Bilal Omar from Lund University in Sweden and one of the researchers behind the study said that the animal models for type 2 diabetes studies that earlier existed have not been optimal as they use young mice.
He said that their idea was to create a model, which resembled the situation in the development of type 2 diabetes in humans.
Omar asserted that people generally get the disease in middle age when they start to put on weight and live a more sedentary, and more stressful, life.
He said that their new middle-aged mouse model enabled them to study long-term physiological effects of the development and treatment of type 2 diabetes in a completely new way.
The Lund researchers fed normal mice fatty food over a long period from the age of eight months, i.e. middle age, until the end of their natural lives at the age of two.
The mice become obese, and developed high blood sugar levels and reduced insulin release, as expected before the onset of type 2 diabetes.
Omar said that throughout the period they were able to study the process that led to the development of type 2 diabetes with a lifestyle like that of people predisposed to the condition.
In the study, the researchers could confirm that fatty foods led to inflammation in the islets of Langerhans in the pancreas, which produce insulin.
Researchers have seen inflammation in the islets in people with type 2 diabetes, but in Omar’s view, it is only with the new mouse model that it can really be confirmed.
Omar said, "What was so interesting and exciting was that the mice that were treated with DPP-4 inhibitors, a class of drugs used for type 2 diabetes, did not develop inflammation and they maintained good insulin production.
He said that they were still obese, but had normal blood sugar, were otherwise healthy and lived longer.
Omar said that their goal is to design drugs and treatments which, if they can’t cure the disease, can at least give the patient a better quality of life for several years.