Scientists Discover a New Hormone that May Cure Diabetes

June 5, 2013

Unlocking Word Meanings

Read the following words/expressions found in today’s article. 

1. hormone [HAWR-mohn] (n.) – a natural substance that helps the body’s growth and development
Example:  People grow taller because of growth hormones.
2. regulate [REG-yuh-leyt] (v.) – to adjust the amount of something
Example: The nurse regulated the temperature inside the patient’s room by adjusting the air conditioner.

3. genetic [juh-NET-ik] (adj.) – determined or produced by the genes
ExampleGenetic diseases can be passed on from generation to generation.

4. arm [ahrm] (n.) – a branch of an organization that has a specific function
Example: The Science and Technology Policy Bureau is an arm of Japan’s Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology.

5. soluble [SOL-yuh-buh l] (adj.) – can be melted or dissolved in a liquid
Example: The mother bought some soluble food for her toothless child.


Read the text below.

Researchers from the Harvard Stem Cell Institute have discovered a new hormone that encourages the production of the cells destroyed by diabetes.

The new hormone Betatrophin promotes beta cell production. These beta cells from the pancreas produce a hormone called insulin, which regulates the sugar build up in the blood.

People with diabetes lack the supply of insulin, thus having the risk of organ and blood vessel damages due to high blood sugar levels.

Diabetes has two types. One is Type 2 diabetes, which is caused by poor diet, lack of exercise, and some genetic factors. Type 1 diabetes, on the other hand, occurs when the body's immune system attacks the beta cells by mistake.

In both types of diabetes, the body cannot properly make insulin. Patients must therefore inject insulin to regulate the sugar level in their body. However, this solution can be tricky and most people cannot do it right. With the new hormone, more beta cells can be produced, which may then help the body better regulate the production of insulin.

Evotec, a German biotech firm, and Janssen, the pharmaceutical arm of Johnson and Johnson, have licensed and authorized the discovery. Both companies are now trying to make betatrophin available for human treatment. This task, however, is not so simple.

Dr. Douglas Melton, the project leader, says his team has been able to produce betatrophin in different kinds of cells but still cannot make it into a soluble form. Once it becomes soluble, the hormone can be ready and available for use.

Viewpoint Discussion

Enjoy a discussion with your tutor.  

Discussion A

·         How do you think this discovery can affect the life of diabetics?
·         Why is it important to find cure for diseases like Diabetes?

Discussion B

·         How can people prevent having serious illnesses like Diabetes?
·         What practices do you perform in order to have a healthy lifestyle? Please explain your answer.


June 5, 2013