Blocking a hormone may help treat Type 1 diabetes

London: Blocking a hormone that raises sugar levels in the blood may increase insulin levels while keeping blood sugar levels down, thus treating Type 1 diabetes, says a study.

The findings showed that using insulin therapy and blocking “glucagon” hormone as a combined treatment could, in some cases, provide a more effective and safer way to maintain a healthy balance and avoid the peaks and troughs of blood sugar levels.

“Inhibiting the hormone ‘glucagon’ has recently been explored as an alternative or supplement to insulin injection, but it has limitations,” said lead study author Pedro Herrera from University of Geneva in Switzerland.

“Our research reveals why the body needs to have some residual insulin production in order for a treatment blocking glucagon to work,” Herrera added.

Blocking “glucagon” was only effective if some insulin was still being produced, the researchers noted in the paper published in the forthcoming issue of the journal eLife.

In patients with Type 1 diabetes, blocking “glucagon”, in addition to insulin replacement, could help keep blood sugar levels in check.

It could also result in some glucagon-producing alpha cells converting into beta cells and producing more insulin.

For the study, the team used transgenic mice in which insulin could be more efficiently eliminated. These mice became severely diabetic.

The study point to a novel way to treat diabetes and also challenges the benefits of the strategy in severely diabetic patients.