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How the world got lost on
the road to an anti-aging pill
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October 19, 2012: by Bill Sardi
Since its initial discovery in 2000 by researchers in Japan, the hormone known as fibroblast growth factor-21 (FGF21) has intrigued biologists and endocrinologists. Mouse FGF21 is highly identical to human FGF21, making it useful for laboratory comparison.
It didn’t take long for investigators to realize FGF21 is a “novel therapeutic agent for human metabolism” in the regulation of sugar utilization, particularly in fat cells (adipocytes) in the liver. Therapeutic provision of FGF21 to laboratory mice reduces blood sugar levels and these animals are resistant to obesity. And FGF21 does not induce hypoglycemia (low blood sugar), cancer or weight gain at any tested dose in diabetic or healthy animals. Biologists were beginning to think of it as an ideal hormone/drug to treat diabetes.