PhD Candidate Presents Winning Antidiabetes Study in Las Vegas
UKZN student, Ms Nikita Naicker (24), was placed second in the Poster Category after delivering two presentations of her research at the International Conference on Targeting Diabetes and Novel Therapeutics in Las Vegas in the United States.
‘I felt immense excitement presenting my work abroad,’ said Naicker, who thanked the University of Pretoria’s SABINA partnership for awarding her a scholarship to attend the conference.
Her supervisor and Head of UKZN’s Medical Biochemistry Department, Professor Anil Chuturgoon,
said the award was a great achievement for Naicker who is enrolled for the first year of her PhD.
The title of her PhD is: “Trigonella foenum-graecum Seed Extract, 4-Hydroxyisoleucine and Metformin Stimulate Proximal Insulin Signaling and Increases Expression of Glycogenic Enzymes and GLUT2 in HepG2 Cells”.
‘Fenugreek (Trigonella foenum-graecum) is globally recognised for its medicinal properties and hypoglycaemic effects,’ said Naicker. ‘The seed extract as well as its active compound, 4-hydroxyisoleucine (4-OH-lle), have been shown to reduce hyperglycaemia insulin resistance. The mechanism by which this occurs has not been investigated in human liver cells (HepG2) in comparison to the anti-hyperglycaemic drug, metformin.’
Her study investigated the effect of fenugreek aqueous seed extract (FSE), 4-OH-lle and metformin in human hepatoma HepG2 cells relative to insulin as a positive control. Findings from the study provided a mechanism by which FSE exerts anti-hyperglycaemic effects similar to metformin and insulin occurs via enhanced insulin signalling, gene expression and increasing glucose uptake.
These results were a significant contribution to antidiabetic research because plants are an unexplored source of potentially useful antidiabetic therapy.
Naicker said: ‘The field of research is exciting, evolving and where one’s mind is constantly stimulated.’