Diabetes

26 April 2013

Hormone shows potential as diabetes treatment

A hormone that could lead to more effective diabetes treatment has been identified by researchers.

0
A hormone, called betatrophin, causes mice to produce insulin-secreting pancreatic beta cells at up to 30 times the normal rate  and could be used as a diabetes treatment. But it only produces insulin when the body needs it, according to the team at the Harvard Stem Cell Institute.

The researchers said their findings offer the potential for the natural regulation of insulin and a significant reduction in diabetes-related complications such as blindness and limb amputation. The study is published in the the journal Cell.

More work needed for treatment to work

Although the hormone shows promise in lab mice, much more work is needed before it could be considered as a treatment for diabetes in humans, the researchers noted. Results obtained in animal experiments often aren't attainable in trials with humans.

"If this could be used in people, it could eventually mean that instead of taking insulin injections three times a day, you might take an injection of this hormone once a week or once a month, or in the best case maybe even once a year," Doug Melton, co-director of the institute and co-chair of Harvard University's department of stem cell and regenerative biology, said in a university news release.

Miilions living with diabetes

About 26 million Americans have type 2 diabetes, which causes people to slowly lose beta cells and the ability to produce sufficient amounts of insulin.

"Our idea here is relatively simple," Melton said. "We would provide this hormone, the type 2 diabetic will make more of their own insulin-producing cells, and this will slow down, if not stop, the progression of their diabetes. I've never seen any treatment that causes such an enormous leap in beta cell replication."

Along with its potential for treating type 2 diabetes, betatrophin might also have a role in treating type 1 diabetes, Melton said.

 

Read Health24’s Comments Policy

Comment on this story
0 comments
Comments have been closed for this article.

Ask the Expert

Diabetes expert

Dr. May currently works as a fulltime endocrinologist and has been in private practice since 2004. He has a variety of interests, predominantly obesity and diabetes, but also sees patients with osteoporosis, thyroid disorders, men's health disorders, pituitary and adrenal disorders, polycystic ovaries, and disorders of growth. He is a leading member of several obesity and diabetes societies and runs a trial centre for new drugs.

Still have a question?

Get free advice from our panel of experts

The information provided does not constitute a diagnosis of your condition. You should consult a medical practitioner or other appropriate health care professional for a physical exmanication, diagnosis and formal advice. Health24 and the expert accept no responsibility or liability for any damage or personal harm you may suffer resulting from making use of this content.

* You must accept our condition

Forum Rules