Synthesis and Evaluation of a Novel Class of Glycosidase Inhibitors for the Treatment of Type-2 Diabetes

Ahmad Ghavami’s PhD research involved a rare South Asian plant containing compounds that could be helpful in the treatment of type 2 diabetes. The Salacia reticulata climbing plant has been used for centuries in treatment of diabetes in Sri Lanka and India. Researchers have isolated compounds from the plant and demonstrated their effectiveness in inhibiting glycosidases, the enzymes that break down starch into smaller sugars, and finally into glucose. Using the compounds to inhibit these enzymes in people with type 2 diabetes could lower blood glucose concentration, which is critical in treatment of the disease. Ahmad and his colleagues designed a method to synthetically produce the plant’s compounds, together with the next generation analogues, and they tested the inhibitory effects on a wide range of enzymes. More importantly, in vivo studies with rats have shown effective control of blood glucose levels with use of Ghavami’s compounds. Results from the study confirm the effectiveness of the method for designing and synthesizing a new class of molecules that function as glycosidase inhibitors, which can control the breakdown of carbohydrates. These findings were patented, with Ahmad listed as part inventor, and were responsible for securing venture capital and the formation of a spin-off company, Mimos Therapeutics, Inc.