MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — A West Virginia University graduate student is studying an unexplored enzyme that could lead to new diabetes treatments.

Stephanie Shumar is a graduate student in WVU’s School of Medicine and is studying biochemistry and molecular biology.

The university says in a news release that conventional diabetes medications work by stabilizing blood sugar levels, not by improving chemical processes behind how the body produces and processes blood sugar. Shumar says that’s like a motorist who doesn’t fix an antifreeze leak but instead keeps pouring more into the car.

Shumar was awarded $88,000 by the National Institutes of Health for a two-year investigation into how one enzyme regulates coenzyme A levels and glucose production in the liver. High concentrations of coenzyme A in the liver can affect blood sugar levels.