Subjects: R and D
Two over-the-counter medicines used to treat itchy eyes and runny noses might be effective treatments for obesity and Type 2 diabetes, according to a pair of papers in Nature Medicine.
The allergy drugs Zaditor and cromolyn are immune system modulators, and scientists have come to believe there’s a link between immune system activity and these common conditions.
In the first study, Guo-Ping Shi, a biochemist from Brigham and Women’s Hospital noticed a plethora of mast cells—which normally facilitate wound healing by increasing blood flow to the site and are also implicated in the etiology of asthma and allergic reactions—in the fat tissue of obese and diabetic humans and mice.
Shi showed that Zaditor or cromolyn could quell mast cell activity in this tissue and that was associated with reduced body weight and more easily controlled diabetes in mice.
Following this, Shi showed that genetically engineered mice that could not produce mast cells did not become obese or develop diabetes, even while being fed a high calorie diet which produced these conditions in normal mice.
“The best thing about these (2 allergy drugs) is that (they’re) safe for people,” Shi explained to BurrillReport. “The remaining question now is: Will this also work for people?”
She intends to test the drugs on obese and diabetic primates as a next step.
In the second study, Joslin endocrinologist Steven Schoelson and colleagues showed that fat tissue in obese and diabetic subjects contained fewer regulatory T cells than that in normal-weight humans and mice.
The paucity of these cells created an overabundance of macrophages and other inflammation-generating cells in the fat tissue of obese and diabetic subjects.
“It’s possible that the inflammation caused by macrophages results in insulin resistance,” Shoelson told Burrill.
“And it’s likely that (regulatory T cells) are keeping the macrophages in check in normal fat tissue, thus preventing inflammation.”