Arthritis Drug a Future Diabetes Medication?

August 9th, 2011

A collaborative group of researchers including the American Diabetes Association and the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation has been testing the medication abatacept (CTLA4 immunoglobin fusion protein) as a possible treatment for type 1 diabetes. Abatacept, better known by its brand name Orencia, is FDA approved to treat autoimmune diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis and multiple sclerosis.

Type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune disease in which T-cells in the body's immune system mistakenly attack the insulin producing beta cells in the pancreas. With the pancreas producing little or no insulin, type 1 diabetics must rely on insulin injections to regulate their blood sugar levels. Those type 1 diabetes who continue to produce some insulin have an easier time keeping their blood sugar in the normal range, and have less risk of diabetes complications.

Abatacept blocks the activation of the immune system's aggressive and destructive T-cells. The researchers hoped the medication would protect the remaining beta cells in the pancreas from being destroyed, allowing them to continue to make at least a little of their own insulin.

Researchers recruited 112 newly diagnosed type 1 diabetics aged 6 to 45, all of whom still had some functioning beta cells. Two thirds of the participants were given abatacept intravenously over two years, and one third was given a placebo. The two-year study ended recently, although participants will be followed up for another two years. Initial results are encouraging, with the participants who received the abatacept showing 59% more insulin production than the control group.

"I have spent my career on the quest to find a treatment and cure for type 1 diabetes, and thus it was very gratifying when we unblinded the clinical results and discovered that abatacept had benefit," said principle investigator Dr. Tihamer Orban. "From my experience though," he cautioned, "abatacept is not likely to be the complete answer, and type 1 diabetes patients will likely benefit from cocktail combinations with other drugs. This synergistic approach has a great future."

Orban's is the CEO of the clinical stage biotechnology company, Orban Biotech. Orban Biotech has launched a pre-clinical study evaluating the combination of abatacept with the company's antigen-based therapy insulin B chain vaccine. The vaccine, which is entering into a Phase II trial, is designed to arrest the autoimmune response and re-establish tolerance towards insulin, preserving the body's own insulin production.

This study is one of several which show promise of novel ways to improve diabetes control, and perhaps free insulin dependent diabetics from the need for frequent insulin injections and other diabetes medication.

Home Urine Test Measures Insulin Production in Diabetics

August 31st, 2011

A simple home urine test has been developed which can measure if patients with type 1 and type 2 diabetes are producing their own insulin. The urine test replaces multiple blood tests in hospital and can be sent by mail, as it is stable for up to three days at room temperature. Avoiding blood tests will be a particular advantage for children with diabetes.

The urine test measures if patients are still making their own insulin even if they take insulin injections. Researchers have shown that the test can be used to differentiate Type 1 diabetes from Type 2 diabetes and from rare genetic forms of diabetes.

One woman with a genetic form of diabetes whose urine test revealed that she was still making her own insulin was able to stop taking insulin injections after 14 years of insulin treatment. To read more about this promising home urine test on ScienceDaily, >CLICK HERE.<

Scientists Cure Diabetes in Rat's Using Animals Own Stem Cells

October 17th, 2011

diabetes cured in rats


Using stem cells that they extracted from the brains of diabetic lab rats, and turning them into insulin-producing pancreatic cells, Japanese scientists may be on the road to a virtual cure for diabetes that comes from people's own brains. Led by Tomoko Kuwabara of the National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology in Tsukuba Science City, Japan, a team of scientists extracted neural tissue from the rats' olfactory bulbs or their hippocampuses. The former is the part of the brain is involved with smell while the former is involved with memory.

Because of both sites' location in the brain, extraction was easily done through the nose. The rats involved had either type 1 or type 2 diabetes. The scientists then extracted stem cells from the tissue and applied a human protein to them, Wnt3a, which "switches on" insulin production.

After two weeks, the cells had multiplied to the point that the researchers could lay collagen sheets impregnated with them gently on top of the diabetic rats' pancreases. Seven days later, the concentration of insulin in the blood of all the rats, whether type 1 or type 2, matched that of non-diabetic rats. Blood glucose levels were normal. To read the entire story on, >Click Here.<