Unger said that leptin seems to do a better job than insulin at targeting the body's blood-sugar control mechanisms.
The findings were published in this week's online issue of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
Another diabetes expert, Satya P. Kalra, a distinguished professor emeritus at the University of Florida Department of Neuroscience, said that his own research has shown that leptin works as a treatment for both kinds of diabetes. In fact, leptin is "the only durable and efficient new therapeutic strategy for diabetes" and related diseases, said Kalra, who's familiar with the findings of the new study.
What's next? Leptin must be tested on humans, Unger said. "We have every reason to believe that it will work in man," leading to better health for diabetics, he said. "But there's no point in getting overly excited until a human trial has shown that it works, and that will take a couple of years."
Unger said he could not estimate the cost of leptin therapy. It could be given through injections or via an intravenous drip, he said.
Learn more about type 1 diabetes from the American Diabetes Association.
SOURCES: Roger Unger, M.D., chairman, diabetes research, University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center at Dallas; Satya P. Kalra, Ph.D., distinguished professor emeritus, University of Florida Department of Neuroscience, Gainesville, Fla.; March 1-5, 2010, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, online
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