Diabetes Research Shows Role of Bones, Brain

New hormones and body systems make the disease even more complex
By Lucas Laursen,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 16, 2007 12:23 PM CDT
Tools to deal with diabetes.   (ShutterStock)
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(Newser) – The New York Times surveys what it calls an "explosion" of recent breakthroughs in diabetes research, painting a much more complex portrait of how the body balances sugar in the bloodstream, and offering radically different possibilities for treatment. One of the most surprising discoveries is that bones produce a hormone that influences blood sugar levels.

Until recently, the regulation of blood sugar had been seen as a "conversation" among  the pancreas, liver, muscle tissue, and fat. Now researchers have isolated substances in the brain, small intestine,  immune system, and bones which also send and receive signals. The hormone produced in the bones, osteocalcin, has already been used to control diabetes and obesity in mice. Drugs based on hormones from the small intestine, incretins, are in clinical trials.