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Testing of Potentially Fatal High Insulin Levels in Infants Now Possible

Update Date: Oct 24, 2014 05:20 PM EDT

Researchers have identified excessive secretion of a certain hormone in infant stomachs as a marker for a rare form of insulin disease that can cause death.

According to Zee News, incretins are hormones that are secreted in the gut when food passes through it. These hormones signal the pancreas to release insulin to metabolize blood sugar levels. Researchers studied 13 children at Manchester Children's Hospital with a rare condition called Hyperinsulism. It was found that incretin levels were high in these children. High levels of incretin cause overstimulation of pancreas which in turn produces high amounts of insulin. Excess insulin depletes the blood of glucose and leads to brain damage due to low sugar levels.Testing for high levels of incretin can help detect hyperinsulism, the study claims. 

In severe cases of the disorder, the pancreas is removed.

"We have discovered a new clinical test which can identify congenital hyperinsulinism in some patients with no known genetic cause of the disease. This is the first step to understanding what causes the disease in these particular patients.  In future the test may influence how these children are treated medically, perhaps even avoiding the need to have their pancreas removed," said Dr. Karen Cosgrove from university's Faculty of Life Sciences, in a press release.  

"Our new results are timely since clinical trials of a new incretin-blocking treatment for congenital hyperinsulinism have recently started. We anticipate that our clinical test will help to identify the patients who are likely to benefit from this new treatment the most," said Dr. Indi Banerjee from the Paediatric Endocrinology at Royal Manchester Children's Hospital which teamed up with Manchester University for the project.

Researchers said that further studies are required before their discovery can become clinically viable.

"Although we are the first researchers to report high incretin hormone levels in patients with congenital hyperinsulinism, further studies are needed to see if our test works on a larger group of patients," added Dr. Cosgrove.  

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