JDRF and Amylin to Test Hormone for Blood Glucose Control

In November 2010, JDRF partnered with Amylin, a pharmaceutical company with a history of producing breakthrough diabetes medicines, to investigate whether leptin, a hormone that exists naturally in the body and is released by fat cells, could improve blood glucose control for people with type 1 diabetes. Animal studies indicate that metreleptin, a synthetic form of the hormone leptin with identical function, plays a role in regulating blood glucose. Positive study results in humans could indicate that metreleptin can help the body control blood glucose, and lessen people’s dependence on medical insulin.

Controlling blood glucose levels – that is, preventing its highs and lows – is perhaps the biggest challenge for people living with type 1 diabetes. People living with the disease must check their blood glucose levels throughout the day and use medical insulin to counter the levels of glucose in the bloodstream. However, a person can take too much insulin or too little of it, a problem that can cause episodes of dangerously low or high blood glucose, respectively.

The JDRF-Amylin metreleptin study is the first time the drug has been investigated in humans. Previous studies in animals showed that the hormone improved blood glucose, cholesterol, and fat levels. The study, to be conducted by researchers at the University of Texas Southwestern at Dallas, will enroll 15 subjects with type 1 diabetes who will take metreleptin twice a day for five months in addition to insulin.