End of the diabetes jab? Scientists find insulin-boosting hormone that could …

  • A newly discovered hormone – betatrophin – could revolutionise the treatment of type 2 diabetes
  • It could halt the development of the condition
  • In mice the hormone was shown to increase the number of insulin-producing beta cells up to 30-fold

Fiona Macrae Science Correspondent

11:00 EST, 25 April 2013


18:47 EST, 25 April 2013

Diabetics could be freed from the need to inject themselves by the development of a once-a-year drug

Diabetics could be freed from the need to inject themselves by the development of a once-a-year drug

Millions of diabetics could be freed from having to inject themselves several times a day by a once-a-year drug.

Scientists have discovered a hormone which can boost the number of insulin-making cells  by up to 30-fold.

This would ‘dramatically’ improve treatment for type 2 diabetes. This form of the condition, often triggered by weight gain, is becoming more common in the obesity crisis.

Researchers from Harvard University believe the betatrophin hormone may even have the power to halt type 2 diabetes in its tracks.

‘It could eventually mean that, instead of taking insulin injections three times a day, you might be able to take this hormone once a week or once a month, or in the best case, maybe once a year,’ they said.

In patients with type 2, or adult-onset diabetes, cells in the pancreas do not make enough insulin, a hormone vital to the conversion of sugar into energy. Insulin they do make does not work properly.

Initially, the condition is often controlled with a stringent diet and exercise regime. But many patients will suffer worsening health over time, eventually needing tablets or insulin injections.

Seeking an alternative to simply giving insulin, the US researchers looked for a way of boosting its production in the body.

This led them to a hormone which they christened betatrophin.

Given to mice, it raised the number of insulin-producing beta cells by up to 30-fold, reported the journal Cell.

In addition, the ‘enormous’ number of new cells only made insulin when needed, which should lead to more natural blood sugar levels and better health.

Given to mice, the new hormone raised numbers of insulin-producing beta cells up to 30-fold

Given to mice, the new hormone raised numbers of insulin-producing beta cells up to 30-fold

Researcher Professor Doug Melton said the discovery had left him so excited that he could hardly sleep. He added: ‘Our idea is  relatively simple.

‘We would provide this hormone, the type 2 diabetic will make more of their insulin-producing cells and this will slow down, if not stop, the progression of their diabetes.’ Drug firms have already seized on the breakthrough and the hormone could be tested on people in just three years.

However, the need to show it would be safe and effective in large numbers of people means it is a decade away from the market.

Yesterday’s Daily Mail reported how just one 12oz can of sugary drink a day can raise the risk of type 2 diabetes by a fifth.

Complications of high blood sugar include heart disease, blindness, and nerve and circulatory damage.

It is thought that one in 20 Britons has diabetes, with type 2 making up 90 per cent of the cases.

The US work may also be useful in treating type 1 diabetes, which typically develops in childhood or adolescence.

The comments below have not been moderated.

this was talked about before but wont happen too much money involved for Eli Lilly

mark adam

london, United Kingdom,
26/4/2013 02:18

Why are people positively rating Joan from Sandbach’s contribution that “people with Type 2 diabetes have a choice. They can help themselves with diet and exercise”. I have type 2 diabetes and produce so little insulin that I have to inject myself with insulin at least 5 times a day. I bet my diet and exercise is a good deal better than Joan from Sandbach’s but in any case Sir Steve Redgrave has type 2 diabetes. I’d love to know what the vile and pig ignorant people who think anyone deserves this serious illness have to say about that.


26/4/2013 01:09

I’m Type 1 and have being doing injections for 31 years today, to be honest I’ve had enough, but I can’t give up or bye bye me, I wish they sort something out for us just for once we have no other option!! My body has been injected over 45,000 times and no end in site, I lost all muscle in both arms at the age of 6 (1984) thanks to doctor saying its ok to it there, it came back thankfully Type 2’s thank yourselves luck if you control it well as mentioned by others you take pills, wish I was so lucky!


26/4/2013 00:54

Because of such poor treatment from my G.P’s. I subscribed to Diabetes UK. Boy what a con that is – all they seemed to want to do is ask for money via donations. Beware they only seem to be after your money.

Mrs B

Southern England, United Kingdom,
26/4/2013 00:51

For all the people who have their facts wrong… I am type 2 diabetic. Type 2 diabetics can end up being treated with insulin. I use metformin and liraglutide. The liraglutide is injected into my stomache at night. Polycystic overies and genetics play a big part in developing type 2 diabetes. I have PCOS (polycystic overies syndrome), i was diagnosed at 16 and with PCOS and at 27 with diabetes,which at least three women on my mothers side have type 2 diabetes. Type 2 is also as dangerous as type 1.


Rochdale, United Kingdom,
25/4/2013 22:46

Comment by Ranger from Blackpool £50 a box, being diabetic your prescriptions are free. In Scotland all prescriptions are free but before this came in me being diabetic got free prescriptions.


North Ayrshire,
25/4/2013 22:20

my diabetes is type one. metformin and injections into the stomach twice daily. if you inject anywhere else, bad bruising can form.

john back

25/4/2013 22:12

Since when do type 2 diabetics have to inject daily? Get your facts right DM – Roger Phillips, Swansea, 25/4/2013 20:45-

To Roger and all the other non diabetics on these pages, I am Type 2 diabetic and I take both Metformin and a dose of Insulin from a disposable pen twice a day, every day, and I also have to test my blood glucose level as the gentleman was doing in the photo. If this news is correct, then I can hardly wait, as my stomach is getting like a pin cushion. I cannot inject into a leg or thigh like some, as it would go straight into a muscle, and that is bad for you, so I welcome this news.


Birmingham, United Kingdom,
25/4/2013 22:07

Since when do type 2 diabetics have to inject daily? Get your facts right DM

– Roger Phillips, Swansea, 25/4/2013 20:45

My husband has Type 2 diabetes and injects twice a day, Roger! You get YOUR facts right please!


25/4/2013 21:37

– UKIP Supporter, Bromley, 25/4/2013 19:17……..Interesting that you comment on genetic engineering. I am type 1 diabetic, third generation. My father’s insulin was harvested from animals. A workable compromise, but far from ideal. I am more fortunate. I can inject insulins of the exact human formulae – both fast acting and slow acting. This is because insulin is now produced by genetically modified bacteria. I am afraid I tend to laugh at those who are horrified because I am injecting myself with what they describe as a GM product.

Mike A

Channel Islands, Guernsey,
25/4/2013 21:35

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