Wednesday, March 3, 2010
A New Hope for Diabetes Patients
Many people struggle with diabetes each day, with constantly having to check blood-sugar levels and supplement themselves with insulin. Diabetes is known for having high blood-sugar levels due to the body producing little to no insulin itself. Insulin is a hormone typically produced in the body of normal functioning humans which affects the metabolism of a person as well as taking in glucose from blood and storing it as glycogen in other body cells. I personally don't have diabetes but I have a grandmother who does and for many years I have seen her struggle in dealing with the imbalance of her blood-sugar levels. Constantly having to insert a shot of insulin must become a pain after a while. Diabetes patients are constantly known for having several medical conditions such as kidney failure, blindness, and limb amputation. I know my grandmother has dealt many years with skin problems, and recently muscle problems that are due to having diabetes.
There are two main type of diabetes type one and type two. Type one is more fatal because the body doesn't produce any of its own insulin. Before insulin was supplemented into the bodies of diabetes' patients, having diabetes was very fatal if you had type one diabetes. After the discovery of injecting insulin into type one patients the fatal condition turned into just a chronic diesease ( Couzin-Frankel). Type two diabetes is the more commonly seen type which is characterized when the body produces insulin but doesn't properly respond to it. Therefore, injected insulin into both types of patients is beneficial. However, there are always side affects and bodies don't always respond properly to insulin causing the correct dosage hard to be distinguished.What can we do about this difficulty in regulation? In the article " Appetite Suppressors Could Be an Alternative to Insulin" published in Science, new research is being done to propose that the appetite suppressor hormone, leptin, could be used as a replacement to insulin.
Researcher Roger Unger at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center at Dallas has been studying the affects this hormone has on diabetes. His research included 15 diabetic mice who were pumped with leptin for 12 days and 15 mice who were pumped with regular insulin. So far his research has proved that both groups of tested mice were able to gain normal glucose levels. If this hormone can do the same thing as insulin what does it matter? Well, Unger has stated that he also believes the use of this hormone will alleviate the changes in blood-sugar levels that many patients suffer from.
Overall I think research of this hormone is a great idea I know many patients suffer from imbalance in their blood- sugar levels. Like much research in this field, use of the hormone leptin is still only in animal testing phase. I still wonder if certain side affects will be able to be solved. Because an appetite suppressor hormone is being used there are weight loss side affects expected. I also wonder what the affect of messing up with naturally occurring hormones will do to the body. The idea of this research seems promising hopefully someday we will see a way to make the lives of these patients easier.
Valerie Silva (3)