A nanomaterial may improve insulin’s effects on the nervous system. (Credit: Shutterstock)

Researchers have developed a compound consisting of insulin bound to a string of amino acids that includes an antioxidant group. An earlier study in mice suggested this nanomaterial’s anti-diabetes properties included improving glucose consumption and availability as fuel for the brain.

The scientists used a molecule called AAC2 to bind to insulin’s chemical structure. They created a series of molecules out of small chains of amino acids and, to make AAC2, the addition of a structural fragment of the antioxidant coumarin. The chains are designed to stack like bricks and stick to each other in a way that enables them to self-assemble into nanofibers that carry a positive electrical charge. The electrical forces hold insulin and AAC2 together to form a supramolecular complex.

The team found that only the combination therapy produced steady glucose levels in the mice over a long period of time and positively influenced gene expression and neurotransmitter transport in their brains. The mice treated with the combination therapy also performed better on cognitive behavioral tests than animals treated with only insulin or the nanofiber AAC2.

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