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Thursday, April 25, 2013

Gene Discovery Could Radically Improve Diabetes Treatment

Harvard Stem Cell Institute Co-Director Doug Melton, right, and Peng Yi, a post doctoral fellow in his lab, review data from recent experiments in Melton's lab in Cambridge, Mass. (Harvard University/AP)

Harvard Stem Cell Institute Co-Director Doug Melton, right, and Peng Yi, a post doctoral fellow in his lab, review data from recent experiments in Melton’s lab in Cambridge, Mass. (Harvard University/AP)

Scientists at Harvard say they have found a new gene that produces a hormone that could radically improve treatment for type 2 diabetes.

About 20 million people in the U.S. suffer from type 2 diabetes and control their disease with drugs and insulin injections. But despite treatment, the disease can lead to heart attack, stroke and even blindness.

Professor Doug Melton, co-director of the Department of Stem Cell and Regenerative Biology at Harvard University, and his colleagues have discovered a gene that produces insulin making beta cells in mice.

If the injections of the hormone — produced from the gene — can work in humans, patients will no longer need to use medications or insulin injections to control their type 2 diabetes.

Melton is currently working with two pharmaceutical companies, including Johnson & Johnson, to test the hormone in humans.

He also hopes to find ways to use the new hormone in patients with type 1 diabetes — an autoimmune disease that causes the body to attack all insulin-producing cells.

Video: Potential diabetes breakthrough explained

Guest:

  • Doug Melton, co-director of the Department of Stem Cell and Regenerative Biology at Harvard University.

Please follow our community rules when engaging in comment discussion on this site.
  • Guest

    What is going on with our science community? Where is the science?

    I was raised by people who understood nutrition and taught us to divide all foods into the TWO GROUPS in which they fall. All food is digested by either ACID or ALKALINE and the two should NOT be eaten together. When these two foods groups are eaten together, which of course neutralize each other, the food sits fermenting in one’s stomach causing acid reflux, obesity, etc.

    So, Doug Melton, what are you trying to do? Rather than deal with the consequences of people’s bad actions, you want to create a pill that allows them to continue to behave badly? Sir, YOU are part of the problem, since these people created their own diabetes by eating BADLY.

    I know, it’s the MONEY and not the SCIENCE.

    • Ana_900

       I agree with you that food is very important for our health. Can you please list some of the common foods that are Acid and Alkaline?
      Thank you!

    • logansq83

      “the two should NOT be eaten together. When these two foods groups are eaten together, which of course neutralize each other, the food sits fermenting in one’s stomach causing acid reflux, obesity, etc.”
      {{Citation needed}} 

    • Achez236

      As a 24-yr-old 5 ft. 3″ 120lb. Type 1 diabetic who doesn’t know where her disease came from and why she needs to inject herself daily with insulin just to stay alive, I hate you for saying that. Yes, it’s true that Type 2 diabetes can be caused by obesity, but there are other factors involved that you don’t seem to be aware of. Eating healthy is, of course, the way to go… but breakthrough research like this gives diabetics like me whose diabetes isn’t weight-induced hope. So, I hope you’ll think about what you said and understand that this is truly significant work that they’re doing at Harvard…

  • Bill

    Dozens maimed for life and several killed killed at the marathon.  Cars hijacked.   College security assassinated.  Homemade bombs thrown and handgun clips unloaded at pursuing officers.  Tell me, what do your guest and the idiots commenting below think should have been done.  Do they think these two suddenly saw fit to stop their aggressive attacks on us.  Did they want the attackers stopped.  Maybe if these criticizers’ kin were killed or injured they would see fit to pursue with appropriate vigor.

  • tridoug

    Why not just eat properly and stay active?   If you do you almost most certainly won’t get type 2.

  • Lyss

    My limited understanding of Type 2 Diabetes leads me to ask, is the condition not a result of the body becoming desensitized to naturally produced insulin, therefore requiring more (injected) insulin to produce the same effect? Isn’t the cure to reduce sugar and simple carbohydrate intake so that the body has less demand for insulin and eventually sensitivity is restored so that naturally produced insulin is sufficient? If so, then what is the benefit to introducing more unnatural insulin into the body, thus making it even more desensitized to insulin? Is it only so the person can continue to make poor food choices? Isn’t insulin also an inflamatory agent in the body so that an excessive, unnatural supply of it would have undesirable effects on the circulatory system and organs supplied by it? I am not speaking of Type 1 hereditary diabetes, whose condition this research may improve. Why call this an improvement in the treatment of Type 2 Diabetes? Because it’s less painful than injections?

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