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Gene Discovery Could Improve Diabetes Treatment

ByAllison EckNOVA NextNOVA Next

Carolyn Y. Johnson, writing for

Harvard University researchers have discovered a naturally-occurring hormone in mice that sharply increases the number of precious, insulin-producing cells found in the pancreas—the beta cells that are lost during diabetes.


Outside researchers said the results, published Thursday in the journal Cell , were an exciting research advance against a disease that is a profound public health problem, affecting an estimated 25.8 million people in the United States. Beta cells are lost in both type 1 diabetes, in which they are attacked by the body’s immune system, and in the more common type 2 diabetes, caused by a combination of genetic and lifestyle factors. Researchers have reason to hope that this line of research could one day help both groups of patients.

They have yet to find out whether or not the increase in beta cells would occur regardless of age. Still, it’s an exciting discovery.