How They Work
After we eat, cells in our intestines release a variety of hormones. One is called GLP-1 (glucagon-like peptide-1). GLP-1, among others, increases insulin secretion which makes it part of a group of insulin-secreting, or incretin, hormones. The increased insulin works to lower blood glucose levels after a meal.
Our bodies also secrete another compound, an enzyme called DPP-IV (dipeptidyl peptidase-IV) which inactivates GLP-1, and possibly other incretin hormones.
The drugs under study are designed to inhibit DPP-IV, protecting GLP-1 from degradation.
Another plus - Since the amount of GLP-1 released from our cells is dependent on the amount of glucose made available from a meal, its presence doesn't lead to low blood glucose or weight gain - problems that dog a present class of diabetes drugs, the sulfonylureas.
Drugs Of This Type In Clinical Trials (Or Marketed)
- Merck: Sitagliptin
- Novartis: Vildagliptin
- OSI Prosidion: PSN9301
- Amylin and Eli Lilly: BYETTA™ (Exenatide)
BYETTA™ went on the market in June of this year. You may remember this as the drug developed from the venom of the gila monster lizard. It's different from the three drugs above in that it mimics the action of GLP-1 instead of inhibiting its breakdown. Also, it must be injected where the drugs above can be taken orally.
A Few Good Overviews
Dipeptidyl peptidase inhibitors as new drugs for the treatment of type 2 diabetes.
New Insights Into the Role of Incretins in the Treatment of Diabetes.