Research highlight

Combination drugs reduce side-effects

Nature Medicine

November 12, 2012

The combination of two compounds, estrogen and the gut hormone GLP-1, results in a more selective and potent metabolic drug with fewer side effects, according to research published this week in Nature Medicine.

Estrogen, by modulating feeding behavior and energy expenditure, has been suggested as a therapy for obesity and type 2 diabetes; however, it can also cause unwanted effects, such as tumor growth promotion. Matthias Tschop and colleagues circumvent this issue by chemically linking estrogen to the hormone GLP-1 to selectively target metabolically-relevant tissue. The authors note that the conjugated compound also has greater beneficial metabolic effects in obese mice compared to either native compound administered alone."

They conclude that this chemical approach may lead to other safer drug combinations, such as widely used glucocorticoids, to treat a variety of different diseases. Long-term toxicological studies are needed however, to ensure that negative effects on cell types that express receptors for both GLP-1 and estrogen, such as pancreatic beta cells, does not occur.

doi: 10.1038/nm.3009

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