Researchers from the University of California, San Diego recently offered the sharpest-yet picture of how core biochemical pathways in skeletal muscle cells and fat cells are altered in people who suffer from insulin resistance—a primary defect in type 2 diabetes and obesity. Taking a systems biology approach, the bioengineers and medical researchers also determined how a common class of drugs for treating insulin resistance—TZDs—alter these same core pathways. This led the team to uncover previously unknown effects of TZDs and insights that could lead to improved drug therapies for insulin resistance.
The team—led by investigators from the UC San Diego Jacobs School of Engineering and School of Medicine—recently published their findings in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS).
“When you are insulin resistant, your metabolism suffers. If you take a TZD for your insulin resistance, will the drug fix the dysfunction in muscle and fat tissues? Will these changes be functionally related to drug efficacy? These are some of the questions we addressed in our new study,” say UC San Diego faculty members Dr. Shankar Subramaniam and Dr. Dorothy Sears, co-corresponding authors of the new paper. The collaborative project involved Dr. Subramaniam’s Bioinformatics and Systems Biology laboratory in the Department of Bioengineering at the Jacobs School of Engineering, Dr. Sears and her colleagues in the Department of Medicine, and Pfizer, Inc.