New research hopes to identify better type 1 diabetes treatments

Individuals with type 1 diabetes who have had little success in controlling their symptoms may soon have a new treatment strategy to try.

Researchers from UT Southwestern Medical Center recently began a clinical trial to study the effectiveness of adding leptin to traditional diabetes treatments.

Leptin is a hormone that is naturally produced by fat cells in the body. It plays a role in body-weight regulation, and researchers hope that it will help control blood sugar levels in individuals with type 1 diabetes. The hormone has previously shown promising results in animal trials. This will be the first trial to test its effectiveness in humans with diabetes.

"If it works in humans as well as it does in rodents, it will be a major step forward," said Roger Unger, who will lead the investigation. "In rodents, it eliminated the wide swings in glucose that occur with insulin alone and lowered indices of cholesterol formation. The hope is that it will improve both short- and long-term quality of life for patients with type 1 diabetes."

Researchers will examine the hormone's effects in 12 to 15 patients over a five-month period.