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New Protein Treatment Could Reverse Diabetes

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There’s no denying that dealing with diabetes can be very difficult. But now there’s hope that a radical new treatment — currently being tested in the laboratory — could actually reverse the disease.

Researchers in California have been studying obese mice with type 2 diabetes. They’ve now discovered that injecting these mice with a kind of protein called FGF1 can restore blood sugar levels to a normal range in just two days.

Researchers also found that continuing to treat the mice with protein FGF1 helped keep blood glucose at healthy levels and even revered insulin insensitivity — which is the root cause of diabetes.

The study’s lead researcher, Professor Ronald Evans (who is also director of the Gene Expression Laboratory at the Salk Institute in La Jolla, California) says using protein FGF1 offers “a powerful and unexpected way” of controlling glucose levels.

This isn’t the first time researchers have experimented with protein FGF1. The difference this time: they injected it into mice with type 2 diabetes.

“Many previous studies that injected FGF1 showed no effect on healthy mice,” noted Salk Institute researcher Dr. Michael Downes. “However, when we injected it into a diabetic mouse, we saw a dramatic improvement in glucose.”

The hope is that protein FGF1 can be used to create an alternative to diabetes drugs currently on the market. Many of those drugs can have dangerous side effects, like hypoglycaemia (which emerges when blood glucose levels drop too low).

The researchers’ report has now been published in the journal Nature.

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