Utilizing the GLP-1 signaling system to treat diabetes: sorting through the pharmacologic approaches.
Glucagon-like peptide-1 (GLP-1) is an intestinal hormone that promotes glucose homeostasis through the regulation of insulin and glucagon secretion, gastric emptying, and food intake. This spectrum of effects makes GLP-1 an attractive candidate for drug development. However, because GLP-1 is a small peptide with rapid metabolism in the circulation, its usefulness to treat patients is limited. However, GLP-1 mimetics that are resistant to degradation have been developed and are effective in lowering blood glucose in diabetic patients. A second strategy for harnessing GLP-1 therapeutically is to inhibit the metabolism of endogenous GLP-1; several orally available compounds are in clinical trials. These two new classes of drugs both enhance GLP-1 signaling but differ in several key characteristics that may lead to distinct roles in the treatment of diabetic patients.
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