Health Watch - Diabetes: The Brain's Role

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This week on Health Watch, we’re talking about some research into finding treatments or even cures for type 1 diabetes. Diabetes occurs because of damage done to cells in the pancreas, but recent research shows that the brain may play some role, as well.

Earlier research done at UT Southwestern Medical Center found that injections of leptin, a hormone produced by the body’s fat cells, could restore terminally ill animals with diabetes to full health. Now researchers have discovered that injecting leptin directly into the brains of mice that don’t produce insulin reversed the consequences of diabetes.

Dr. Roberto Coppari, a UT Southwestern diabetes researcher, says this study shows that the body can live without insulin if leptin receptor signaling in the brain is enhanced. Now researchers need to find out exactly which brain cells are affected by leptin and whether adding leptin to insulin therapy will help patients with type 1 diabetes.         

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February 2011


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