The constant rise in obesity and diabetes represents a major burden of our society. Fatty liver and atherosclerosis are frequent consequences of these metabolic diseases, but an efficient and safe medicine, which would reverse obesity, insulin resistance, fatty liver and atherosclerosis remains a major scientific challenge of global priority.
Scientists of DZD partner Helmholtz Zentrum München and Technische Universität München have developed a ‘smart’ drug that safely clears the liver of fat and prevents blood vessels from clogging up. Similar to a trojan horse, the drug enters the liver with a trick: It uses the pancreatic hormone glucagon as vehicle to shuttle thyroid hormone T3 the live while keeping it away from other organs, thereby improving cholesterol and lipid metabolism while avoiding typical side effects of thyroid hormone.
The international team led by metabolism experts Matthias Tschöp (Helmholtz Zentrum München / Technische Universität Müchen), Richard diMarchi (Indiana University) and Timo Müller (Helmholtz Zentrum München) report in the journal ‘Cell’ that liver-specific delivery of the thyroid hormone T3 using glucagon corrects obesity, glucose intolerance, fatty liver disease and atherosclerosis without causing adverse effects in other tissues. “While the ability of T3 to lower cholesterol is known for centuries, deleterious effects, in particular on the skeleton and the cardiovascular system, do so far limit its medicinal utility”, says Brian Finan, the first author of the manuscript.
Finan, B.& Clemmensen, C. et al. (2016): Chemical Hybridization of Glucagon and Thyroid Hormone Optimizes Therapeutic Impact for Metabolic Disease. Cell, DOI: 10.1016/j.cell.2016.09.014