"The groundwork of all happiness is health." - Leigh Hunt

The discovery could someday help individuals with diabetes make more insulin.

There is so much to find out about diabetes. But a discovery that might change how the disease is treated shows how rather more there may be to learn.

Turning on beta sales

In type 1 diabetes, the body's immune system attacks the pancreas, a small organ that sits within the lower abdomen. This attack destroys insulin-producing cells within the pancreas, called beta cells. Without enough insulin, muscle cells cannot absorb sugar from the blood. Blood sugar levels rise, wreaking havoc throughout the body. Type 1 diabetes could be life-threatening if left untreated. Even with treatment, normally each day injections of insulin, type 1 diabetes often results in heart disease, vision problems, and neurological problems.

In the more common type 2 diabetes, muscles resist the motion of insulin, causing blood sugar to rise. As the pancreas secretes increasingly insulin, the beta cells can eventually burn out.

Over the years, Melton and his colleagues made a surprising discovery: the pancreas could make recent beta cells, even in individuals with type 1 diabetes. “Old” pancreatic cells can divide, becoming young. Unfortunately, the pancreas will not be naturally capable of make enough recent beta cells to exchange those killed by diabetes.

Melton and colleagues reasoned that there could also be some chemical signal that prompts beta cells to divide and grow. gave Sale The paper details their search and discovery of such a signal in mice. It is a hormone called betatrophin. This hormone, made by the liver and fat cells, travels through the blood to the pancreas. There, it signals existing beta cells to grow and divide, creating recent beta cells.

In diabetic mice, turning on betatrophin production by the liver and fat cells led to a rise in beta cells and a dramatic improvement in blood sugar.

More to be done.

It will definitely take plenty of research in mice after which in humans to find out if this newly discovered hormone can work as a diabetes treatment. So it's too early to get excited that betatrophin's discovery will translate directly into recent diabetes treatments.

This work is the newest example of a serious scientific discovery that has been made previously 20 years. We are learning that the human body has more power to heal itself naturally than we ever thought. Scientists around the globe are working to find ways to stimulate the body's own natural healing mechanisms, as Dr. Melton and his colleagues are doing.

In the United States, this work and other necessary research is threatened by the “sequester,” which is cutting funding for medical research. It can be a shame if a vital discovery like Melton's was lost on account of political squabbles. Regardless of what you consider federal spending typically, in the event you share my view that we shouldn't cut funding for health research and public health, you may do what I did. What is it. Write your representatives in Congress to revive cuts to medical research.