New research has found that the brain may play an essential role in glucose regulation and the development of type 2 diabetes, Medical News Today reported.

In a study published in the journal Nature, researchers suggested that glucose regulation is controlled by coordinated interactions between both the brain and insulin-producing tissues in the pancreas – a theory that could eventually pave the way for new treatments for the disease.

Based on a review of both human and animal studies, the researchers speculated that while the pancreas reacts to increased levels of blood glucose by releasing more insulin, the brain is also heavily involved in helping the body maintain normal glucose levels. Type 2 diabetes occurs when both of these systems fail, according to Medical News Today.

Currently, treatments for type 2 diabetes rely almost exclusively on methods that attempt to either increase insulin or regulate the body’s sensitivity to insulin. However, if the researchers are correct in their hypothesis that failures in the brain are crucial to the development of type 2 diabetes, it could lead to new, more effective methods by which to treat – or even reverse – the disease.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), it is estimated that 50 percent of the population will have developed diabetes by 2050.

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