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Laboratory studies show a natural protein analog may fix insulin-making cells isolated from pancreas

LOS ANGELES, (November 20, 2003) - For decades, doctors have known that patients who develop higher than normal blood sugar eventually require medication and ultimately need to take insulin, having progressed to what is known as Type 2, or adult-onset diabetes. So when a natural protein analog known as GLP-1 was found to lower blood sugar levels in laboratory mice, researchers began investigating its effectiveness in diabetes patients in clinical trials. Once again, they found that GLP-1 lowered blood sugar and increased insulin production in patients with Type 2 diabetes. But just how GLP-1 pushes cells to produce more insulin has only been partially understood.

Now, laboratory research conducted at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center has shown that GLP-1 not only stimulates the insulin-making capacity of islet cells in the pancreas, but that the compound actually makes new insulin, increases the growth of new islet cells and prevents overworked islets from dying prematurely. The study, reported in the December issue of the journal, Endocrinology, (available on-line at http://endo.endojournals.org) is the first lab study to apply GLP-1 directly to freshly isolated human islet cells and suggests that GLP-1 may be useful to delay or prevent the onset of Type 2 diabetes.

"Our study shows that GLP-1 is the first compound to actually generate new insulin," said Riccardo Perfetti, M.D., Ph.D., and Director of the outpatient Diabetes Program at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center. "In other words, it doesn't just deplete the islet cell by making it work harder to produce more insulin, but it actually fixes the cell's engine."

Insulin, a hormone that controls blood glucose levels, is made by islet cells in the pancreas. But when the islet cells begin to fail, not enough insulin is produced, causing blood sugar levels to get too high. This in turn, causes the islet cells to work harder to produce more insulin, ultimat
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Contact: Kelli Hanley
kelli.hanley@cshs.org
310-423-3674
Cedars-Sinai Medical Center
20-Nov-2003


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