Diabetes researcher says he may be 'close to a cure'

A startling scientific breakthrough on Type 1 diabetes could help pave the way to a cure or perhaps significantly reduce the need for insulin therapy.

A researcher at UT Southwestern, Dr. Roger Unger, reports in the February issue of Diabetes that by shutting down glucagon, a hormone that causes blood sugar to spike in patients with Type 1 diabetes, he was able to restore glucose tolerance to a normal level in mice. Even large doses of glucose failed to derail the therapeutic effect of the glucagon approach.

"We've all been brought up to think insulin is the all-powerful hormone without which life is impossible, but that isn't the case," said Dr. Unger, professor of internal medicine. "If diabetes is defined as restoration of glucose homeostasis to normal, then this treatment can perhaps be considered very close to a 'cure.' "  

Unger has already been testing leptin as a possible treatment for the disease in a small human study. But a number of labs have reported unexpected responses to leptin, even though it has worked in mice. Unger says he now believes it works in mice because it shuts down the production of glucagon.

- here's the UT Southwestern release
- check out the story from the Dallas Morning News