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Possible Diabetes Scientific Breakthrough: Hormone Stimulates Pancreatic Cell Production

Roughly 26 million Americans suffer from type 1 and type 2 diabetes. This disease has no known cure, only treatment, which includes shots. Now, the scientists of prestigious Harvard University believe they have the answer:  a hormone that makes the body produce insulin-secreting beta cells.

So many people in the U.S. suffer with diabetes. Many people who have metabolic syndrome and type 2 diabetes go years with the condition before it is diagnosed. Therefore, it is anticipated that the number of Americans with type 2 diabetes will increase immensely over the next few years.

Harvard Scientists Discover Betatrophine – A Wonder Hormone

There is good news on the horizon for diabetics! A hormone has been discovered by researchers, Dr. Melton and Dr. Yi, at the Harvard Stem Cell Research Institute. This hormone shows promise of becoming a significant, effective type of treatment for type 2 diabetes. Additionally, it could possibly be a scientific breakthrough in the treatment juvenile diabetes (also known as type 1 diabetes).

The hormone is called betatrophin, and it was tested in the laboratory setting on mice subjects. The outcome in the lab rats showed that betatrophin increased insulin secreting pancreatic beta cells up to thirty times the normal rate. In addition, the pancreatic beta cells only produce insulin when the body needs it. People without the diabetes produce adequate insulin from the beta cells, whereas diabetics lack adequate amounts of these cells to bump out the necessary insulin for the body. Betatrophin allows for a more normal regulation of insulin in the bodies of type 2 diabetics.

Newly Found Hormone Deters the Progression of Diabetes

For type 1 diabetics, betatrophin may have the potential to boost the number of beta cells the pancreas produces and slow the progression of diabetes after initial diagnosis. Basically, the scientists have cloned the human gene, and they know that the hormone betatrophin exists in human plasma. Giving patients this hormone would allow them to develop cells in the body that are lacking in diabetes.
A key in the discovery of the betatrophin hormone was described by the researchers. Women who become pregnant have an increased need for insulin due to the added weight and nutritional needs of the developing fetus. Betatrophin levels go up in pregnancy to accommodate the beta cells. They further explained that to help diabetics, this hormone must be provided so that their bodies could generate more of their own insulin-secreting beta cells. The Harvard investigators believe that this will deter the progression of diabetes.

Final Thoughts

After years of hard work, it looks as it Melton and his partner Yi finally found the promising cure they have sought after for years. Now, they have to continue testing, do clinical trials on humans, and if all goes according to plan – type 2 diabetics will have enhanced quality of life. This would allow a diabetic to go from two or three insulin shots a day to one (or none) a day!


Melton and Yi of Harvard University (2013, April 25). Potential diabetes breakthrough: Hormone spurs beta cell production. ScienceDaily. Retrieved April 30, 2013, from http://www.sciencedaily.com¬ /releases/2013/04/130425132620.html

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