A compound, found exclusively in garlic, may control blood sugar levels just as well as insulin but without the need for daily injections according to a new study published in the January 2009 issue of Metallomics, a journal published by the Royal Society of Chemistry. The compound, known as Bis(allixinato)oxidovanadium(IV), is a complex consisting of a central vanadium atom connected to two allixin molecules.
The study was published by researchers from the Suzuka University of Medical Science in Japan and involved the oral administration of the vanadium-allixin compound to a group of 7 diabetic mice over a 9 day period. The blood glucose levels of the mice were then compared with a group of un-treated diabetic mice, a group of insulin treated diabetic mice, and a control group of non diabetic mice.
Initial blood sugar levels were around 30mmol/L for the diabetic mice and 8mmol/L for the non-diabetic mice. Five days into the vanadium-allixin treatment, blood sugar levels of the diabetic mice began to drop dramatically and by the end of the 9 day treatment had reached 12mmol/L, a similar blood sugar level to the insulin treated diabetic mice.
The vanadium-allixin treated mice also showed a small reduction in weight whereas the insulin treated mice increased in weight slightly over the treatment period.
The researchers believe the compound works by activating the insulin signalling cascade which plays an important role in the regulation of glucose metabolism. The compound also appears to stimulate the function of an enzyme known as AMP-activated protein kinase (AMPK) which helps cells to absorb glucose.
The research raises hope for alternative treatments for both type-1 and type-2 diabetes. Current treatments normally involve daily insulin injections which can be inconvenient to administer whereas the vanadium-allixin compound can be taken orally and unlike insulin, doesn’t appear to cause weight gain, a common side effect of insulin treatment.
The researchers intend to conduct further studies to determine whether the anti-diabetic effects of the compound translate from mice into humans.
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