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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