Researchers have created a new antibody capable of treating type 2 diabetes. Professors from the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health conducted the study which uncovered two important findings. They identified that the antibody CA33 increased insulin sensitivity and lowered fasting blood glucose, liver fat and overall fat mass in obese mice. The antibody, however, did not have any effect on aP2-deficient mice. The research team examined this finding further and concluded it establishes its target specificity.
In clinical terms, the antibody targets aP2, a fatty acid binding protein, also known as FABP4, in fat-storing (adipose) tissue. An increase in adipose tissue has long been linked to an increased risk for metabolic diseases such as cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes. The tissue releases hormones which act in distant sites such as the brain, muscle and liver that affect systemic metabolism. It has become clear that the adipose tissue characteristic of obesity plays a significant role in metabolic disease development.
This research study, which was led by Professors Gokhan S. Hotamisligil and M. Furkan Burak, discovered one of the monoclonal antibodies targeting aP2 has the potential to be therapeutically transformative in fighting obesity related metabolic and immunometabolic diseases.
In his former research, Professor Gokhan S. Hotamisligil, found that levels of aP2 hormones in those living with atherosclerosis, obesity and diabetes are critically high. If somehow these levels could be reduced or controlled, scientists could find a treatment for these chronic diseases.
The research, which was published online through Science Translational Medicine on December 23, 2015, is still in its preclinical phase. The scientists are working on strategies to modify or mutate aP2 functions which could develop new medications to fight off type 2 diabetes. However, further evaluation is needed to test its results and safety before pushing for clinical trials on human participants.
Professor Hotamisligil stated that the discovery brought forward two important aspects. Primarily, it demonstrated the importance of aP2 as a critical hormone in abnormal glucose metabolism, which strongly correlates with metabolic complications; secondly, it proved that the hormone can be targeted to curb diabetes and possibly other immunometabolic diseases.
The clinical study was a collaboration between teams from the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health led by Hotamisligil and M. Furkan Burak, the study’s lead authors and global biopharma company UCB.
Findings suggest that an aP2-targeted antibody is a viable approach for type 2 diabetes treatment and possibly other immunometabolic diseases.