Sue Marshall blogs about diabetes for Desang

JDRF — going blue for World Diabetes Day on 14 November

October 11, 2010
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They’re doing it, I’m going to do it, are you? Going Blue! Whatever you do, don’t feel blue about diabetes, get blue to show your support for World Diabetes Day. Fundraise, raise awareness or just spread the word. You can find out what JDRF is doing, and they’ll help you with a free pack.


Texas Researcher Poised to Test Leptin as a Replacement for Insulin Among Type 1s

April 23, 2010
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After mice “thrived” on the insulin-free regimen the hormone leptin offered, researchers are now ready to test the response on humans…

A University of Texas researcher who genetically modified mice with type 1 diabetes to control their disease with leptin instead of insulin is now ready to extend his experiment to human test subjects. Dr. Roger Unger, a researcher at the UT Southwestern Medical School in Dallas, will begin the tests as soon as leptin manufacturers can assure him of a steady supply of the hormone.

While other studies have indicated that the hormone may help control blood sugar levels, Unger and his associates were the first to experiment with leptin as a monotherapy in diabetes.

In his paper, “Leptin monotherapy in insulin dependent type 1 diabetes,” just published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Unger details how his team initially genetically modified diabetic mice to produce extra quantities of leptin. The mice were then taken off insulin and left to rely solely on leptin to control their blood sugar levels.

Unger reports that the mice thrived on the insulin-free regimen. Because genetic manipulation is not an option in human test subjects, the next step was to treat diabetic mice that had not been genetically altered with pump-delivered injections of leptin. Unger reports that those mice, too, did well despite the absence of insulin.

One reason for Unger’s desire to see if leptin can be a viable alternative to insulin is concern about the side effects produced by the typically large doses of insulin that most people with type 1 diabetes have to take. Among them are large fluctuations in blood sugar levels and possible long-term ill effects on blood vessels. In his experiments with leptin, Unger found that only low doses of the hormone were needed to maintain stable blood sugar levels.

Even as he undertakes tests with human subjects, Unger agrees with other diabetes experts that there is still a long way to go before leptin could be recommended as an alternative diabetes therapy. One important question the research may help answer is why leptin mimics insulin’s ability to deliver sugar to muscles and fat cells.

In comments on his paper, Dr. Barbara Kahn, a diabetes expert at Harvard Medical School and chief of endocrinology at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston, said that Unger’s research will have to address several other crucial questions:

  • Mouse and human eating patterns are very different. Mice graze constantly on food that takes a long time to digest, while humans eat several meals a day. Can leptin, which can maintain constant blood sugar levels in animals whose eating patterns do not create wide swings in the first place, work in humans, whose eating patterns invite such swings?
  • Unger’s mice had to be genetically altered to produce leptin, whereas most people with type 1 diabetes already produce normal amounts of leptin. What side effects might be created if the amount of leptin in their systems is increased?
  • Will leptin make it harder for type 1s to tell if they are having a hypoglycemic episode?

Whatever answers Unger’s further research delivers, they probably won’t help people with type 2 diabetes, who are resistant to both insulin and leptin.

via: Texas Researcher Poised to Test Leptin as a Replacement for Insulin Among Type 1s

Company Hopes New Drug is Major Type 1 Breakthrough

April 13, 2010
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Diabetes Newshound reports a new drug that helps the immune system to “tolerate” insulin-producing cells that it would otherwise mistakenly attack and destroy is being trialed by 240 patients…

Tolerx Inc. should know by the end of the year whether or not they have created one of the most significant developments in preventing or slowing Type 1 diabetes, according to a recent article published by the Boston Globe.

The company said that it has completed the enrollment of 240 patients in a clinical trial of otelixizumab, a drug that aims to help the body’s immune system to “tolerate” insulin-producing cells that it would otherwise mistakenly attack and destroy.

Type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune disease in which the body attacks its own insulin-producing cells, mistaking them for foreign cells. People need insulin, the hormone that regulates sugar in the blood. People with Type 1 diabetes need to inject the hormone into their body several times each day.

The company says it could eventually offer an eight-day course of intravenous infusions of the drug for people recently diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes. The treatment could reduce the need for daily insulin shots and helping the patients control their blood sugar levels.

via: Company Hopes New Drug is Major Type 1 Breakthrough

UK Study Says Bisphenol A (BPA) Is Connected to Increased Risks for Diabetes and Coronary Heart Disease

March 10, 2010
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We’ve lived through other scares — deoderant could give you breast cancer, so could mobile phones, but maybe there is something in the idea that what our food comes in and how and what we heat it in, as well as our overall increased use of plastics is having a bad effect on us, including inducing diabetes.

A study by researchers at the universities of Exeter and Plymouth in the United Kingdom says that Bisphenol A-BPA-a chemical commonly used in plastic packaging and products, is associated with an increased risk of diabetes and coronary heart disease.

The British research team looked at a 3,000-person cross-section of adults ages 18 to 74 who had participated in the landmark U.S. National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey between 2003 and 2006. NHANES, a series of U.S. national surveys that have been conducted since 1971, is an exhaustive collection of such disparate data as age, sex, ethnicity, education, income, weight, exercise habits, and more. It has resulted in the creation of a huge relational database that allows medical researchers to make correlations and cause-and-effect connections that they could not make before.


‘Fat Hormone’ May Hold Key to Reversing Type 2 Diabetes | Diabetes News Hound

January 18, 2010
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Leptin, commonly referred to as the fat hormone, may hold the key to reversing Type 2 diabetes, according to a recent article on WebMD.

New research suggests that just a small amount of the hormone can control a gene in the liver that has shown to help diabetic mice. However, unlike other studies, which conclude that this hormone may help diabetics by promoting weight loss, the researchers in the current study suggests that the amount of the hormone used in this study is too small to promote weight loss. They say these results show that the benefits of this hormone on diabetes and on weight loss are independent of each other.

via ‘Fat Hormone’ May Hold Key to Reversing Type 2 Diabetes | Diabetes News Hound.

SpringerLink – Journal Article

January 15, 2010
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A report in Diabetologia asserts stress leads to inflammation leads to Type 2 diabetes:

“The recent major increase in the global incidence of type 2 diabetes suggests that most cases of this disease are caused by changes in environment and lifestyle. All major risk factors for type 2 diabetes (overnutrition, low dietary fibre, sedentary lifestyle, sleep deprivation and depression) have been found to induce local or systemic low-grade inflammation that is usually transient or milder in individuals not at risk for type 2 diabetes. By contrast, inflammatory responses to lifestyle factors are more pronounced and prolonged in individuals at risk of type 2 diabetes and appear to occur also in the pancreatic islets. Chronic low-grade inflammation will eventually lead to overt diabetes if counter-regulatory circuits to inflammation and metabolic stress are compromised because of a genetic and/or epigenetic predisposition. Hence, it is not the lifestyle change per se but a deficient counter-regulatory response in predisposed individuals which is crucial to disease pathogenesis. Novel approaches of intervention may target these deficient defence mechanisms.”

via SpringerLink – Journal Article.

Firm Seeking U.S. Approval for Faster-Acting Insulin | Diabetes News Hound

January 15, 2010
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Biopharmaceutical company Biodel, Inc is seeking U.S. Food and Drug Administration approval to market VIAject, an insulin that is designed to be absorbed into the blood faster than other current rapid-acting insulin analogues, according to a press release.

The company says VIAject helps reduce the risk of both hyperglycemia and hypoglycemia (low and high blood sugar levels). The insulin is meant to be used in insulin pumps as well as injected during mealtimes.

VIAject has been tested in more than 850 patients in Phase 1, 2 and 3 clinical trials in the U.S., Germany, and India.

via Firm Seeking U.S. Approval for Faster-Acting Insulin | Diabetes News Hound.

Novo Enters Phase 1 Test of an Insulin Pill – Diabetes Health

January 14, 2010
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On my wish-list for New Year: “Denmark-based Novo Nordisk A/S has begun phase 1 testing of an insulin pill that, if successful, could replace injections as the primary means of blood sugar control for millions of people with type 1 and type 2 diabetes. The company has enrolled 80 volunteer German test subjects in the study and expects to have preliminary results by the first half of 2011. The test group consists of both people with diabetes and people without it.”

via Novo Enters Phase 1 Test of an Insulin Pill – Diabetes Health.

Cancer Drug May Slow Body’s Rejection of Beta Cells in Type 1 – Diabetes Health

January 13, 2010
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Rituxamab, a drug that treats lymphoma and rheumatoid arthritis, may soon be used to help combat the destruction of pancreatic beta cells in newly diagnosed cases of type 1 diabetes. Researchers at Indiana University have found that the drug, originally developed and sold by Genentech as Rituxan, temporarily slows or stops the destruction of the 10 or 20 percent of beta cells that type 1s typically have remaining when they are first diagnosed.

via Cancer Drug May Slow Body’s Rejection of Beta Cells in Type 1 – Diabetes Health.

Big Changes May Be In Store For The U.S. Insulin Market – TuDiabetes – A Community for People Touched by Diabetes

January 11, 2010
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Long, thorough and worthwhile article by Scott Strumello looking at what the future holds for insulin…. “The Future of Insulin Therapy Includes Some Names You Might Not Recognize … Yet! Once the floodgates were opened, what was once a boring, not very dynamic industry saw millions in new investments from researchers and startups (as well as established players) eager to cash in on insulin’s new-found status as a cash cow. Today, there are at least 3 late-stage insulin formulations (meaning they have all either completed Phase III clinical trials or are pretty close to and are planning to apply for FDA approvals in 2010), and several others aren’t too far behind. Interestingly, none of the newest insulin innovations are from the dominant players in the business (Novo Nordisk, Sanofi Aventis or Eli Lilly & Company), but from startups.”

via Big Changes May Be In Store For The U.S. Insulin Market – TuDiabetes – A Community for People Touched by Diabetes.

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