A new hormone made by fat cells could help fight type 2 diabetes and obesity, it has been announced.
Researchers have discovered that asprosin plays an important role in determining blood sugar levels in mice, which could help treat type 2 diabetes in the future.
The hormone was discovered while researchers looked at a rare genetic condition called neonatal progeroid syndrome (NPS) which leaves the person with unhealthily low levels of fat.
Atul Chopra at the Baylor College of Medicine in Housto, Texas, said: “We looked into this super-rare condition, and the result was a discovery that could benefit millions with a much more common disorder – diabetes.”
Human trial
They discovered that when asprosin is released by fat cells and goes to the liver, glucose is immediately released into the blood. Researchers found that when blood glucose levels rise the production of the hormone stops.
Chopra said: “This result brought us full circle. We started with an extremely rare genetic disorder, and using information learned from those patients, discovered a new hormone that can be targeted to treat a different disease that affects many more people.
“If humans with diabetes respond the same way to the asprosin antibody that diabetic mice do, this discovery could result in a new treatment for diabetes, which affects millions of people.”
Further investigation showed that even a small dose of asprosin used in mice helped bring their insulin levels down to within a more normal range. The way in which the hormone works, by lowering insulin levels, suggests that it may help to improve insulin sensitivity.
Chopra’s team now plan to trial the hormone in humans within a couple of years to see whether it could be used effectively to treat obesity.
The findings were published in the journal Cell.

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