A growth hormone-releasing hormone (GHRH) agonist increases the functionality of islet cells in type 1 diabetes, according to a new study.
Islet cell transplantation trials are taking place worldwide to free people with type 1 diabetes from injecting insulin every day. Following a transplant of pancreatic beta cells, blood glucose levels are easier to control, and while patients still require immunosuppressant drugs afterwards, they can go for years without having to inject insulin.
A study conducted by Biscayne Pharmaceuticals, Inc investigated how recently synthesized GHRH agonists could affect the growth of islet cells following transplantation into rodent models.
Previous research from Dr. Andrew V. Schally, endocrine researcher and scientific advisor to Biscayne, found that GHRH agonists could significantly enhance the function of pancreatic beta cells.
In this study, in vitro treatment of islet cells with GHRH agonists increased cell proliferatio, the expression of insulin, and stimulated insulin secretion in response to glucose. The mice used were given streptozotocin to induce a condition that closely mimics type 1 diabetes.
One particular agonist, MR-409 achieved additional therapeutic benefits such as the ability to reach normoglycemia (when blood sugar levels are of a normal range), and increased body weight.
The researchers added that “the beneficial effects of GHRH agonists on the functions of beta cells may also provide approaches to their application in type 2 diabetes.”
The findings were published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

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