Health Watch - Diabetes: Leptin Therapy

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This week on Health Watch, we’re talking about research into diabetes. Previously, we discussed a discovery about the role of the hormone leptin in type 2 diabetes. This hormone also seems to play a role in type 1 diabetes.

Since the 1920s, insulin therapy has been the treatment for type 1 diabetes. In this disease, the body doesn’t naturally produce insulin to manage sugar, so frequent injections and a carefully controlled diet are necessary. But researchers at
UT Southwestern Medical Center have found that injections of leptin instead of insulin manage the symptoms of diabetes better. Leptin is a hormone that helps regulate body weight.

Dr. Roger Unger, the UT Southwestern researcher who led the study, says that while insulin therapy saves lives, the amount of insulin needed to regulate blood sugar has bad effects on the rest of the body, and it can cause serious swings in blood sugar levels. This study was conducted in animals, and if it also works in humans, it could change the way humans cope with diabetes.

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May 2010


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