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Hormone Outperforms Insulin in Diabetic Mice
Date:3/1/2010

Someday, leptin could free people with type 1 disease from daily injections, expert predicts,,

MONDAY, March 1 (HealthDay News) -- Researchers are reporting that treatment with a hormone linked to weight loss seems to control type 1 diabetes in mice better than insulin does, raising the prospect of a landmark new treatment for some human diabetics.

There's no guarantee that the hormone, known as leptin, will work against type 1 diabetes. But if leptin has similar effects on humans, it could free type 1 diabetics from their daily regimen of multiple insulin injections and tight blood-sugar monitoring, said the study's co-author, Dr. Roger Unger, chairman of diabetes research at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center at Dallas.

In addition, Unger said, leptin could help diabetics do a better job of controlling their blood sugar. "They would have a longer life as well as a less burdensome one," he said. "That's the best possible scenario that we could hope for."

People with type 1 diabetes -- also known as juvenile diabetes -- are reliant on insulin, which has been the main treatment since the early part of last century. "Insulin was discovered in 1922 and prevented death, and all of us have grown up having been taught that that was a miraculous discovery, which is correct," Unger said.

But the problem is that injected insulin causes health problems of its own in the body. Type 1 diabetics have little leeway for error in how they treat their condition, and they are at high risk for heart disease as a result of insulin, Unger said.

Leptin is a hormone that's been linked to weight loss, and previous research has suggested that it could help people with type 2 diabetes, the most common form of the disease.

In the new study, researchers gave leptin, insulin or both to mice with type 1 diabetes. The researchers found that the mice treated with leptin alone or in conjunction with
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