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Light-activated diabetes drug made possible by UK team

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A new light-activated drug for type 2 diabetes has been created by scientists at Imperial College London and LMU Munich.

Researchers modified sulfonylurea to change shape and release insulin when exposed to blue light. The change reverses when the light is taken away, causing the drug to 'switch off'. The drug has been designed to manage potential side effects of diabetes medication, particularly the release of too much insulin, which can lower blood sugar to inadequate levels.

'In principle, this type of therapy may allow better control over blood sugar levels because it can be switched on for a short time when required after a meal,' said Dr David Hodson, one of the project leaders said.

It is likely to be a long time before the treatment is available for patients, but Dr Hodson said that that remained the ultimate goal of the project.

Dr Richard Elliott, from Diabetes UK, said: 'Sulfonylureas help many people to manage type 2 diabetes even though, like other medications, they can have side effects. Work on light-activated medications is still at a relatively early stage, but this is nevertheless a fascinating area of study that, with further research, could help to produce a safer, more tightly-controllable version of this important therapy.'

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