Sulfonylureas are among the commonly used anti-diabetic drugs worldwide, and especially in India- where they are considered economical. However, as these drugs intermittently stimulate insulin production from the patient’s pancreas, this insulin release can lead to episodic low sugars- necessitating persons taking it to snack periodically. This snacking could predispose to weight gain too. Commonly used sulfonylureas in India include glimepiride and glibenclamide.
A new innovation, published in the prestigious journal Nature Communications, describes the use of a photo-switchable sulfonylurea- that stimulates insulin release depending on exposure to light- especially light of the violet-blue variety.
This project is still in animal studies, but if translated to routine care- the optical control of insulin release may offer new ways to treat diabetes.