Breakthrough diabetes treatment without insulin

A hormone called FGF1 has been shown to treat diabetes, according to a study published in the metabolic research journal, Cell Metabolism, on Tuesday.

Scientists from the Salk Institute in California discovered that, whilst insulin is produced in the pancreas and FGF1 is produced in fat tissue, they both rapidly lower blood glucose in two ways.

Insulin and FGF1 both regulate the production of glucose in the liver.

They both also inhibit fat breakdown, called lipolysis, but they use different signalling pathways. Insulin uses the enzyme, PDE3B, and FGF1 uses PDE4.

Insulin signalling is impaired in insulin resistance. Eating causes glucose and energy-rich fats to enter the bloodstream and insulin normally takes these nutrients to cells in muscles and fat tissue, where they are used immediately or stored for later use.

In people with insulin resistance, glucose is not efficiently removed from the blood. Also, greater fat breakdown increases fatty acids, which accelerate glucose production in the liver and accumulate in organs, exacerbating insulin resistance.

The new research shows that, if the insulin pathway isn’t working, the FGF1 one can.

Finding this pathway could lead to research on insulin dependence and new therapies for treating diabetes.

This is good news for the nearly 11 per cent of people in the world who have diabetes and the 7.3 per cent who are pre-diabetic.

Former local, Tim Cook, only discovered he was diabetic last year when he was put on an insulin drip for a week.

“I was like a wind-up doll that has no wind,” said Mr Cook, whose blood sugar level rose to a high 36.

“Your body slumps.”

For the previous month Mr Cook had drunk “huge quantities of liquid” and urinated 40 times a day but presumed he was just worn out.

“I got tired looking after a baby so you don’t necessarily recognise it as diabetes,” he said.

One day he felt sick, vomited a little and felt flat. He knew something was wrong and called the ambulance and was diagnosed with Type I diabetes.

“I feel the best I have felt in the past decade but my friend lost 45 kgs in a couple of months and went gray overnight from diabetes,” said Mr Cook.

“This sounds like something that would make it alot less stressful for her.”

Insulin and FGF1 both treat diabetes by independant pathways.

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