Could a single hormone hold the key to a cure for diabetes? Researchers from Harvard seem to think so.
Doug Melton, Harvard Stem Cell Institute co-director, and postdoctoral fellow Peng Yi spearheaded research that holds a great deal of hope for diabetics. Working with mice, they discovered a hormone that boosts the number of insulin-producing cells in the pancreas. Called betatrophin, it can speed cell production up to 30 times the normal rate, but only when the body needs it, thus providing natural insulin regulation.
Although more research needs to be done, it does sound promising. As Melton said in a Harvard online article, using betatrophin hormone therapy could reduce the number of insulin injections required by diabetics. Instead of taking insulin several times a day, a weekly, monthly or even yearly hormone injection would be used instead. For type 2 diabetics, this therapy would create more insulin-producing cells. As for type 1 diabetics, it could stop the disorder’s progression if caught early.
Melton and team are now working with Evotec, a German biotech firm, to expand the research. Human clinical trials could be underway within the next two to five years.
Photo: Science Magazine