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[IP] There's a Fungus Amongus

Here is another article about L - whatever it is!

>Thursday May 6 3:42 PM ET 
>African Fungus Could Leads To Diabetes Pill-Study
>By Maggie Fox, Health and Science Correspondent
>WASHINGTON (Reuters) - A compound purified from a fungus found in the
Democratic Republic of the Congo may help
>lead to the development of a pill that could treat diabetes, researchers
said Thursday.
>The compound seems to act like injected insulin, at least in mice, the
researchers, led by a team at Merck Research
>Laboratories in Rahway, New Jersey, said.
>Writing in the journal Science, they said their compound showed it is
possible to develop pills that can replace insulin injections
>for millions of diabetics.
>About 175 million people worldwide, nearly 16 million of them in the
United States, suffer from diabetes. It can lead to
>blindness, heart disease, limb loss and kidney disease.
>There are two types. Type-I or juvenile diabetes is caused by the
destruction of insulin-secreting cells in the pancreas. Type-II,
>or non-insulin dependent diabetes mellitus (NIDDM), affects many more
people and is caused when the body becomes
>resistant to insulin's effects.
>In both types, cells are unable to absorb enough glucose, a sugar, to work
properly. Insulin is key to this and when there is
>either not enough, or the cells are not responding to it, the system goes
>Millions of diabetics have to inject insulin daily to control their blood
sugar levels. There are also drugs that help enhance the
>effects of insulin.
>Insulin is a large molecule that is destroyed in the stomach, so it must
be injected. Scientists have been searching for a substitute
>that can be swallowed.
>Bei Zhang and colleagues in the United States, Spain and Sweden screened
more than 50,000 substances collected around the
>world by Merck to see which acted the most like insulin in a laboratory
dish. They sought one that was small and easily
>absorbable into the bloodstream.
>They settled on one called L-783,281, originally taken from a fungus on a
leaf collected in what is now the Democratic
>Republic of the Congo, formerly Zaire.
>Zhang's team noted that no one really yet understands what, on the
molecular level, causes type-II diabetes. But they noted that
>in some studies, people with diabetes have fewer insulin receptors --
which are chemical doorways that insulin uses to get into
>Some patients also have suppression of some enzymes that use the insulin
>``Thus, a subset of NIDDM patients have clear defects in insulin signaling
that, in theory, might be overcome by treatment
>aimed at augmenting insulin receptor function,'' they wrote in their report.
>That is what they believe L-783,281 does.
>They tested their compound in two different strains of mouse bred to have
the equivalent of human diabetes. A single dose
>lowered blood sugar, and over a week daily doses also significantly
lowered blood sugar, they wrote.
>It did not seem to harm the mice. ``Long-term treatment (up to 15 days)
with therapeutic doses of L-783,281 did not affect
>food intake, body weight, organ weights or blood chemistry,'' they wrote.
>Although it is a long way from testing something so experimental in mice
to testing it in humans, the researchers think their
>experiments show there are potential compounds that might one day replace
injected insulin, at least for some people.
>Merck, like many other companies, has spent years collecting samples of
plants and animals from around the world for use in
>testing as drugs. 
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