The cure for type 2 diabetes may be all in your head, a new study in rats and mice suggests.
With a single shot to the brain, researchers can rid rodents of all symptoms of the disease for months. The injection, a relatively low dose of a tissue growth factor protein called fibroblast growth factor 1 (FGF1), appears to reset powerful neural networks that can control the amount of sugar in the blood.
So far, it’s not completely clear how exactly FGF1 does that, researchers report in Nature Medicine. Early experiments found that FGF1 didn’t appear to lower blood sugar levels in some of the most obvious ways, such as curbing the rodents’ appetite and spurring sustained weight loss. Nevertheless, because FGF1 is naturally present in human brains, as well as those of rodents, researchers are hopeful that the lucky shot may translate into a useful treatment. [Emphasis added]
If nothing else, the FGF1 finding “unmasks the brain’s inherent capacity to induce sustained diabetes remission,” the authors conclude. But because scientists already have the protocols and know-how to safely deliver FGF1 to human noggins via intranasal routes, moving toward clinical trials seems like a no brainer, they argue.