Newfound hormone could end insulin shots for diabetics

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DENVER — Scientists have identified a hormone that can sharply boost the number of cells that make insulin. It’s a discovery that could lead to a treatment for the most common type of diabetes and would potentially end insulin injections.

The discovery was made by a Harvard University research team and published in the journal Cell.

The hormone, called betatrophin, was found in mice. Researchers were able to get the livers in mice to make more betatrophin when they inserted extra copies of the gene. Tests indicated the new cells worked properly.

About 371 million people worldwide have diabetes, in which insulin fails to control blood sugar levels. Most diabetes is Type 2 and most patients have to inject insulin.

Experts not connected with the study cautioned that other substances found to work in mice have not worked in humans, reported the Associated Press. They say the research is promising, but said more tests on humans need to be conducted.