Finding New Obesity and Diabetes Drugs; Dealing With Long COVID-19; and What's a Healthy Gut Microbiome?

Patrick Lee

October 20, 2022

Drug Repurposing 'Fast Track' to New Medicines for Obesity, Diabetes

Researchers developed a computer program to identify drugs that may treat type 2 diabetes and obesity. The program looks at drugs for other diseases that may work on the basis of genetic pathways used by known drugs to treat the conditions.

The scientists identified four pathways with known drug targets for type 2 diabetes and five with known drug targets for obesity.

For diabetes: Scientists identified palbociclib (used to treat breast cancer) and cardiac glycosides (used to treat heart failure and heart rhythm disorders), which might be repurposed to treat type 2 diabetes.

For obesity: Baclofen (a muscle relaxant) and carfilzomib (a chemotherapy) could potentially be used to treat obesity.

Other possibilities: Fostamatinib (used to treat thrombocytopenia), sucralfate (used to treat stomach ulcers), and regorafenib (used to treat cancer) might be used to treat both conditions.

Long COVID Experts: 'So Incredibly Clear What's at Stake'

The prevalence of long COVID-19 should be a bigger factor in public officials' response to the ongoing pandemic, experts argue. That includes public health messaging, prevention, treatment, social assistance and healthcare reform, advocates say.

More than one third of people who contract COVID-19 have neurologic complications that develop or persist 3 months after infection, estimates show. Two thirds of people with long COVID still have neurologic symptoms after 6 months, some studies report. In addition, recent data reveal that long COVID is keeping two million to four million Americans out of work.

What to do: Do more research into treatments — there aren't any at the moment — and create more facilities for the treatment of dementia and long-term care of the brain health of an aging population.

Overcoming skepticism: Young people may think long COVID is psychosomatic and decline to seek treatment; doctors may believe this as well.

What Makes a Healthy Gut Microbiome?

Recent health talk has centered on the importance of a healthy gut microbiome, but little is known about what it is or how to achieve it. Researchers don't agree on how to quantify and type the microorganisms that make up a so-called normal microbiome or what they mean to the health of a given person.

The human gastrointestinal tract harbors 100 trillion microbes.

More than just microbes: The ecosystem as a whole rather than any specific bacteria is the most likely difference between a healthy and an unhealthy gut microbiome, said Purna Kashyap, MBBS, a professor of medicine and physiology at the Mayo Clinic, who took part in a panel on microbiome testing at the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics's 2022 Food & Nutrition Conference and Expo in Orlando, Florida.

Microbiome diversity: The degree to which dietary changes or any other therapies can move the microbiome toward some goal of microbiome diversity is unclear, Kashyap added.

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