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For individuals who have received a positive HbA1c test for diabetes, there may a new hope for a cure. A team of researchers from UT Southwest Medical Center have found that suppressing a certain hormone renders insulin deficiency and resistance irrelevant.
In testing conducted on lab mice, the team found that suppressing the hormone glucagon allowed individuals to process sugars normally, even when they had no insulin in their bodies.
The researchers explained that this is possible because insulin and glucagon have opposing effects. While insulin directs the liver to remove sugar from the blood stream, glucagon instructs it to move more into the arteries. When both hormones are absent, blood sugar levels remain stable.
"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. Roger Unger, who led the study. "If diabetes is defined as restoration of glucose homeostasis to normal, then this treatment can perhaps be considered very close to a 'cure.'"
The findings may have the largest impact on individuals with type 1 diabetes. Those with the condition are unable to produce insulin and must take injections their whole lives. There is currently no cure.
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