PLEDGE NOW
Here and Now with Robin Young and Jeremy Hobson
Public radio's live
midday news program
With sponsorship from
Mathworks - Accelerating the pace of engineering and science
Accelerating the pace
of engineering and science
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.
Spotlight

Robin Young and Jeremy Hobson are hitting the road. Our Tumblr brings you behind the scenes of our election coverage.

Robin and Jeremy

Robin Young and Jeremy Hobson host Here & Now, a live two-hour production of NPR and WBUR Boston.

February 10 Comment

A Look At Prisons Around The World, With A Spotlight On Our Own

Baz Dreisinger visited prisons in nine countries and wrote about her experiences in a new book, "Incarceration Nations."

February 10 4 Comments

Needle Exchange Tries To Keep Pace With Rising Drug Use

Facilities like this one on Skid Row could receive a boost now that Congress has lifted a ban on federal funding.

February 9 11 Comments

Aviation Factory Struggles To Attract Young Workers

Business is booming at the GE Aviation plant in New Hampshire, but it's having trouble drawing young workers.

February 9 13 Comments

Opiate Addiction In New Hampshire

Robin Young visits a clinic called Recover Together that charges patients $65 a week for group therapy and a Suboxone prescription.