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Study Confirms Link Between Hormone, Insulin-Producing Cells

Neuropeptide regulating appetite may help in developing new diabetes treatments

FRIDAY, Feb. 9, 2007 (HealthDay News) -- A neuropeptide called melanin concentrating hormone (MCH) plays a role in the growth of insulin-producing beta cells in the pancreas and the secretion of insulin, a new study finds.

MCH is found in the brain and regulates energy balance and appetite. The new finding may help in the development of novel diabetes treatments designed to stimulate production of beta cells in the pancreas, scientists said.

The study, led by researchers at the Joslin Diabetes Center in Boston, is published in the February issue of the journal Diabetes.

A previous Joslin-led study in mice found an association between high levels of MCH and an increase in the number of beta cells. In this new study, researchers conducted a series of tests to confirm that link.

"It's a very logical connection," study leader Dr. Rohit N. Kulkarni, an investigator at Joslin Diabetes Center and assistant professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School, said in a prepared statement.

"Whenever you eat food, your body needs more insulin. When MCH induces appetite, it simultaneously increased insulin secretion from beta cells and enhances growth of beta cells. If the proteins that mediate the growth mechanism can be identified, it could lead to the development of new drugs that would enhance beta cell growth to treat type 1 and type 2 diabetes," Kulkarni said.

More information

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has more about diabetes.

SOURCE: Joslin Diabetes Center, news release, Jan. 26, 2007
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