Researchers Bioengineer Cells from Testicles to Produce Insulin

December 15th, 2010

Researchers have briefly "cured" Type 1 diabetes in lab mice using cells extracted from the testicles of deceased human donors. The spermatogonial cells used in the experiment normally produce sperm in men. Scientists extracted them from the donors, bioengineered them to act like the beta cells in the pancreas that produce human insulin, and transplanted them into mice. The transplanted cells successfully secreted insulin, reducing blood sugar levels in the mice for about a week.

While exciting, the breakthrough doesn't yet amount to a cure for insulin dependent diabetes in humans. "These cells don't secrete enough insulin to cure diabetes in humans yet," cautions the study's senior researcher G. Ian Gallicano, an associate professor at Georgetown University Medical Center. However, Gallicano is hopeful that transplanting the spermatogonial cells into different parts of the body may lead to longer blood sugar control. "We know spermatogonial stem cells have the potential to do what we want them to do," says Gallicano, and we know how to improve their yield."

The researchers chose to work with spermatogonial cells because they behave a lot like human eggs, and can be chemically instructed to behave like embryonic stem cells. Stem cells are unspecialized or "undifferentiated" cells that have the potential to develop or differentiate into many different types of cells.

Earlier attempts to transplant insulin-producing beta cells (also called islet cells) found in the pancreas achieved some success, but islet cells transplants are handicapped by the body's autoimmune system's attempts to destroy the new tissue, which it sees as an invader. While they no longer require diabetes medication, islet cell transplant recipients must take powerful immunosuppressive drugs with undesirable side effects, including an increased risk of infection and cancer. A major benefit of spermatogonial cell transplants is that they avoid arousing an auto-immune response.

One obvious disadvantage is that the procedure can only be performed in males, although the fundamental approach might be applicable to the female counterpart of sperm-producing cells, oocytes. Another concern is the potential for spermatogonial cell transplant recipients to develop a type of tumor called a teratoma, associated with the abnormal development of germ (reproductive) cells. But Gallicano is convinced that it would take many more spermatogonial cells than would be required to produce insulin to cause such a tumor.

Gallicano and his fellow researchers are hopeful that they've taken the first step towards reducing diabetic hyperglycemia in humans and eliminating the need for diabetes drugs. This gives hope to the almost 24 million Americans with diabetes, one of the leading causes of death in the US. There are two main types of diabetes: type 1, which requires lifelong insulin injections; and the much more common type 2, which can be controlled by diet, exercise, and, if needed, oral diabetes medication. Both types must be managed carefully to avoid serious complications.

Kudzu Used as Diabetes Medication in Chinese Medicine

January 24th, 2011

Kudzu is a herb used in Chinese medicine to treat diabetes mellitus, alcoholism, colds, fever, menopausal symptoms and neck or eye pain. It's also referred to as kudsu, pueraria, or Japanese arrowroot. Both the flowers and the root have medicinal properties.

There is evidence that one of several isoflavones in kudzu, puerarin, improves insulin resistance. Kudzu appears to have additive effects when used with diabetes medication, assisting in lowering blood sugar levels. Puerarin's ability to thin the blood and improve blood flow is also believed beneficial in diabetic retinopathy.

According to research published the Journal of Agriculture and Food Chemistry in 2009, researchers from the University of Alabama who addied kudzu root extract to the diets of laboratory rats think the herb could be valuable in treating metabolic syndrome. Metabolic syndrome is a group of risk factors that contribute to heart disease, stroke and diabetes mellitus.

The researchers say that the puerarin in kudzu regulates blood sugar levels by directing it away from fat cells and blood vessels to places in the body where it is beneficial, like muscles. "Our findings show that puerarin helps to lower blood pressure and blood cholesterol," reports the study's lead author, Dr. J. Michael Weiss, "But perhaps the greatest effect we found was its ability to regulate [blood sugar]."

"Kudzu root may prove to be a strong complement to existing medications for insulin regulation or blood pressure," adds the study's co-author Dr. Jeevan Prasain, "Physicians may be able to lower dosages of such drugs, making them more tolerable and cheaper."

Kudzu was first brought to the US from Japan in the late 1800s. It can now be found in many parts of the country, most commonly in the south eastern regions, where it has become an unwelcome weed. It's a climbing, trailing vine whose out of control growth makes it quite invasive, earning it the names "the mile a minute plant", and "the vine that ate the South". Southerners claim that they must keep their windows closed at night to keep the kudzu out.

During World War II, American forces seeking a fast-growing plant to camouflage their equipment introduced kudzu to Fiji and nearby Vanuata, where it is now also a major weed. Kudzu remains respected and enjoyed in China and Japan, where it is a common ingredient in medicines and foods.

Because of its impact on blood sugar, it's important that diabetics taking either oral diabetes medication or insulin injections monitor their blood glucose levels carefully if taking the herb. Because kudzu has estrogenic effects, it should not be taken along with tamoxifen or by anyone with hormone sensitive cancer.

Diabesity Epidemic Results in More Insulin Dependent Pets

January 24th, 2011

"Diabesity", the twin and entwined epidemics of obesity and diabetes, is not only striking Americans across the socioeconomic spectrum, it is also impacting our pets. As with humans, the number of domestic cats and dogs diagnosed with diabetes is increasing rapidly. About 1 in 400 domestic dogs and cats are believed to have diabetes, compared to just 1 in 2000 only 40 years ago.

Obesity is a major risk factor for diabetes in both people and animals. Obesity contributes to insulin resistance, a condition in which the body no longer responds effectively to insulin. The body overcompensates for the loss in insulin sensitivity by producing more and more insulin, straining and eventually damaging the insulin producing cells in the pancreas. Most people and animals have type 2 diabetes, the form in which their bodies become insulin resistant, as opposed to Type 1, in which an immune system disorder destroys the insulin-producing cells in the pancreas.

Common symptoms of diabetes in pets are similar to those in humans, and include increased thirst, frequent urination, increased appetite, weight loss, shivering, fatigue and chemical or fruity smelling breath. Diabetes control in pets is also much like that in people - a combination of diet, exercise and the same diabetes medication prescribed to humans. Some diabetic cats can be treated with oral diabetes medications, but most cats and almost all dogs require insulin injections. Diabetic dogs are usually treated with twice daily injections of intermediate-acting insulin, while cats usually require one or two daily injections of long-acting insulin.

Interestingly, scientists have discovered that it's not only people and pampered pets that are becoming increasingly obese. Combing through years of data, they discovered that both wild and domestic animals have been steadily gaining weight for decades. Lab rats and street rats have both gained weight, despite the fact that the lab rats' diet and activity levels remained constant. Monkeys in a primate research centre are actually taking in fewer calories than previous generations, but are gaining weight.

Calculating the odds of so many species randomly gaining weight as only one in 10 million, baffled scientists are proposing a number of causes:

1) Viruses - a common virus that causes colds, adenovirus-36, is known to direct stem cells to turn into fat cells.

2) Global warming - As temperatures rise, living creatures don't have to expend as much energy to keep warm.

3) Chemicals -endocrine disrupters such as the chemical tributyltin, flame retardants and the organic compounds PCBs and BPA have all been linked to obesity.

4) Sleep deprivation - Lack of sleep has been linked to weight gain. A related theory is that changes in the amount of time spent in light or dark environments changes eating habits.

5) Nitrates - Nitrates in processed foods and in dog food have been linked to weight gain.

It's most likely that a variety of environmental factors are driving the obesity epidemic and the related diabetes epidemic. The best way to combat "diabesity" for humans and pets alike remains a low carbohydrate and low glycemic index (dubbed insulin resistance) diet, adequate physical activity, and, if needed, insulin therapy.

Alcohol and Diabetes Control

January 25th, 2011

people drinking

As a general rule, Type 1 diabetics are cautioned against drinking alcohol, primarily because of alcohol's effect on blood sugar (glucose) levels. The liver gives priority to eliminating what it sees as a toxin from the body, interfering with its ability to produce blood glucose. Moderate amounts of alcohol can cause a rise in blood sugar, but increased consumption can quickly cause hypoglycemia, or low blood sugar, and can continue to affect blood sugar levels for 8 to 12 hours after drinking.

Interestingly, the effects of alcohol are so similar to the effects of hypoglycemia that a diabetic suffering an episode of serious hypoglycemia can appear drunk. Symptoms include confusion, lack of coordination, dizziness, sleepiness and loss of consciousness. This is one reason it's recommended that Type 1 diabetics wear medic-alert identification - to make sure that a case of hypoglycemia is not mistaken for a case of "one too many". Severe hypoglycemia can be life threatening, and prompt and proper treatment is essential.

Hypoglycemia is most common in diabetics who take diabetic medications such as insulin or oral diabetes drugs that increase insulin production. Common causes of low blood sugar among diabetics are late, skipped or inadequate meals; exercise, and drinking alcohol. This is why it's necessary to time your insulin injections or oral diabetes medications around your meals and activities. It's also why long-acting insulin is essential in keeping blood sugar levels even through the night, when they can dip perilously low.

Frequent episodes of hypoglycemia can lead to a condition called hypoglycemia unawareness, in which the body stops releasing stress hormones such as epinephrine in response to a dip in blood sugar. As a result, diabetics with hypoglycemia unawareness (most often Type 1 diabetics) do not experience the usual early warning signs of low blood sugar.

The American Diabetes Association has some advice for Type 1 diabetics who decide to drink:

  • Check with your doctor or dietician first to make sure you can drink safely.
  • Be sure to tell your doctor if you drink more than once or twice a week - it may effect his or her decisions around which types of insulin to prescribe you.
  • Diabetics with high blood pressure or triglyceride levels should not drink alcohol. Alcohol adds to hypertension, and even two drinks a week can increase the amount of triglycerides in the blood.
  • Alcohol can worsen diabetic nerve damage and diabetic eye disease.
  • Men should limit themselves to two drinks a day, and women to one.
  • Never drink alcohol on an empty stomach. It's best to drink with a meal, or at least a snack.
  • Drinking right after exercising is not recommended, as exercise can also decrease blood sugar.
  • Test your blood glucose before you drink, and never drink when your blood sugar is low. Test it again before you go to bed.
  • Be alert for any signs of low blood sugar.
  • Use low calorie, sugar free mixers with your alcohol.
  • Sip your drink slowly, and alternate with sips of a non-alcoholic beverage.
  • Wear your medic-alert identification when drinking.
  • Be aware that drinking may lessen your resolve sticking to a diabetes-friendly diet, making you more likely to "cheat" or overindulge.

Warnings about Antipsychotics and Diabetic Hyperglycemia Go Unheeded

January 25th, 2011

In 2003, the FDA warned doctors to screen users of antipsychotic drugs for high blood sugar and cholesterol, and to perform ongoing blood glucose monitoring. The American Diabetes Association and the American Psychiatric Association also issued similar warnings. The warnings were a result of accumulating evidence that some atypical antipsychotics caused impaired glucose regulation and increases in cholesterol and body weight, significantly increasing the risk of developing or worsening diabetes.

But a recent analysis of almost 110,000 Medicaid patients from three different states taking antipsychotics found that the recommended screening and monitoring simply never happened.

"The existing baseline screening and ongoing monitoring of glucose and lipid levels in these patients was already pretty low, and the FDA warning really had no impact in changing that," says Daniel Hartung, an assistant professor in Oregon State University's College of Pharmacy, "The side effects that can be caused by these new types of antipsychotic medications, some of which were approved in the 1990s, are not trivial," warns Hartung, "Increases in blood sugar, cholesterol and body weight can lead to diabetes in some cases, and this patient group already has a problem with diabetes that's almost twice that of the average population."

Canadian researchers who studied the use of antipsychotic drugs in seniors with diabetes are also calling for enhanced glucose monitoring in patients beginning antipsychotic therapy, especially insulin dependent seniors. The researchers found diabetic seniors being treated with antipsychotics were at significantly increased risk of hospitalization for high blood sugar. "The risk of diabetes may be partly related to chronic effects of the weight gain associated with antipsychotic agents," wrote the authors of that study, "However, case reports of acute hyperglycemia [high blood sugar] after the initiation of therapy with these drugs suggest that they may also be associated with acute glycemic changes."

The researchers discovered 11% of their almost 14,000 diabetic study participants taking antipsychotics were hospitalized for acute hyperglycemia. The risk of diabetic hyperglycemia was "strikingly high" among those just starting antipsychotic treatment, while the incidence of hospitalization was lower for those patients who had been off antipsychotic medication for at least six months. "Our study indicates that the initiation of antipsychotic therapy represents a critical period during which seniors with diabetes are particularly vulnerable," wrote the researchers.

The large pharmaceutical company Eli Lilly, which markets both antipsychotics and human insulin, has said that the relationship between atypical antipsychotics and diabetic hyperglycemia is not completely understood. The Canadian researchers theorize that the neurotransmitter dopamine plays a role in regulating blood glucose, and that the use of antipsychotics may disrupt it. Other studies suggest that antipsychotics impair glucose regulation by decreasing insulin action, and possibly insulin secretion.

Eli Lilly reports that diabetic hyperglycemia resolves in some patients when they are taken off antipsychotics, but that others need to continue taking diabetes medication. This underlines the importance for doctors to monitor the need to begin or adjust insulin therapy for those patients who have, or are at risk of developing, diabetes who must take antipsychotics.

Researchers Study Vinegar as a Preventative Diabetes Medication

January 25th, 2011

apple cider vinegarVinegar, especially apple cider vinegar, has long been prescribed as a natural treatment for various ailments, including acne, allergies, asthma, arthritis, indigestion, insect stings, night time leg cramps, hypertension, warts, sore throat, cold sores, burns, sunburns, and even hiccups. Hippocrates, the father of medicine, used vinegar as an antiseptic and antibiotic 1000's of years ago. Diabetics drank vinegar teas for blood glucose control before the invention of modern day diabetes medications.

Professor Carol Johnston, a nutritionist at the Arizona State University, has been studying the benefits of vinegar as a diabetes medication, researching its effect on blood glucose levels. Johnston and her fellow researchers performed three separate studies over a number of years.

In the first study, they gave people with type 2 diabetes, prediabetes (a pre-diabetic state associated with insulin resistance), and healthy controls four teaspoons of apple cider vinegar just before a high carbohydrate breakfast. The vinegar slowed the rise of blood sugar levels in the type 2 diabetics almost 20%. Those with prediabetes experienced an even greater benefit, with their rise in blood sugar slowed almost 35%. Even the healthy study participants experienced lower blood sugar and insulin spikes than the control group that was not given vinegar.

"Both the blood glucose and insulin were better managed after the meal when they consumed vinegar," says Johnston, "It appears that the vinegar mimics the action of both acarbose [generic Precose] and metformin [generic Glucophage], which are two of the commonly prescribed medications for diabetics." Johnston suspects it's the acetic acid in the vinegar that helps with diabetes control. "The acetic acid in vinegar may inhibit enzymes that digest starch, so that carbohydrate molecules aren't available for absorption", she theorizes.

In a follow up study, participants with type 2 diabetes who did not require insulin injections but were taking oral diabetes medications were given either two tablespoons of vinegar or water with an ounce of cheese before going to bed. Those given the vinegar at saw their fasting blood sugar levels reduced an average 4% the next morning. Those with the highest fasting blood sugar levels achieved the most benefit, experiencing a drop of 6%.

In the most recent study, researchers concentrated on the effects of vinegar on healthy participants. They fed both healthy participants and diabetics a standard evening meal, and then a breakfast high in complex carbohydrates with or without vinegar following an overnight fast. The non-diabetics given vinegar with their meals had a 20% reduction in post-meal blood sugar levels compared to those who weren't given vinegar. Two teaspoons of vinegar was determined to be the most effective amount, taken with the meal instead of before eating.

In a welcome but unexpected twist, participants given the vinegar in the longer-term study also lost weight. "The group that got the vinegar lost several pounds on average," said Johnston. Obesity and insulin resistance are closely related to each other, and to diabetes. Unrelated studies have shown that improving insulin sensitivity in pre-diabetics can delay or prevent the development of type 2 diabetes. If something as simple as a couple of teaspoons of vinegar before meals could help address both obesity and high blood sugar, vinegar could gain recognition as a cost-effective oral diabetes medication. "Further investigations to determine the efficacy of vinegar as an antidiabetic therapy are warranted, says Johnston." As many who could benefit from vinegar are put off by its strong taste and the quality of existing vinegar supplements such as capsules is inconsistent, Johnston's team is now working on a more palatable medicinal vinegar tablet.

New Ultra Long Acting Insulin Could End the Need for Daily Injections

February 18th, 2011

insulin syringe

Danish pharmaceutical giant Novo Nordisk has completed clinical testing of a new generation of ultra long acting insulin, called insulin degludec. More than 10,000 type 1 and type 2 diabetics from 40 different countries participated in 17 different trials.

Trial results consistently showed Degludec to be as effective in lowering blood sugar as the current most widely used long acting insulin, Sanofi-Aventis' Lantus (insulin glargine), with no difference in adverse effects.

More importantly, trial participants given Degludec experienced significantly fewer episodes of hypoglycemia than those given Lantus, especially potentially dangerous night time hypoglycemia. Trials with type 2 diabetics saw a decrease in nighttime hypoglycemia of over 35 percent, and trials with type 1 diabetics of 40 percent.

Degludec is effective for up to 40 hours, roughly twice as long as insulin glargine. Lantus is said to be effective for 18 to 26 hours, although some users report a shorter efficacy. The only other long acting insulin on the market, Novo Nordisk's Levemir (insulin detemir), has a similar action period. Like Lantus and Levemir, Degludic's action is flat, without pronounced peaks in effectiveness.

The new insulin is released so slowly and steadily into the body that it may allow some diabetics to go from daily injections to just three injections a week. Degludic's long and steady action is attributable to the fact it forms a "depot" of soluble multi-hexamers when injected under the skin, from which the insulin is slowly and steadily absorbed into the body.

At the same time, Novo Nordisk is also developing Degludec Plus, the first combination of a long acting insulin (or basal insulin) with a rapid acting (or bolus) insulin, insulin aspart. Until now, it hasn't been possible to combine a basal insulin and a bolus insulin in one single injection.

Lantus (insulin glargine) currently leads the market, generating sales of almost $4 billion a year globally. Levemir (insulin detemir) lags far behind in sales. Now that the phase 3 trials have been completed, Novo Nordisk will be seeking FDA approval for both Degludec and Degludec Plus in 2011, and hopes to begin marketing the new diabetes medications in 2013. Degludec is expected to be marketed at a higher price than Lantus, because of its reduced incidence of hypoglycemia and potential need for less frequent insulin injections.

For more information on Degludec and Degludec Plus, click this Global Medical News video link.

Diabetes Medication May Treat Alcohol Addiction

April 6th, 2011

empty alcohol bottle

Actos, an oral diabetes medication used to treat type 2 diabetes, may play a future role in combating alcohol addiction. Actos belongs to a class of medications called thiazolidinediones, or TZDs (also known as glitazones). TZDs reduce insulin resistance by binding to peroxisome proliferator-activated receptors, or PPARs. They also activate PPAR-g, a sub-class receptor which may play a role in the brain's reward circuits involved in addiction.

"As we learn more about the brain, we are seeing a growing number of examples where medications developed initially for purposes unrelated to psychiatry may have new and otherwise unexpected applications," writes Dr. John Krystal, the Editor of Biological Psychiatry, "New data in animal models suggest that TZDs might be promising agents in the fight against addiction."

Research is also ongoing in the use of commonly prescribed cholesterol medications in fighting nicotine addiction. To read the whole article in Science Daily, click >HERE<.

FDA Approves New Type 2 Diabetes Medication

May 4th, 2011

diabetes medicationThe FDA has approved a new oral diabetes medication, Tradjenta (linagliptin) to help control blood glucose in type 2 diabetics. Tradjenta works by blocking the enzyme dipeptidyl peptidase-4 (DPP-4), resulting in increased levels of hormones which stimulate the release of insulin after eating.

Tradjenta was tested in almost 4000 diabetics in eight separate double-blind clinical studies. It was studied both by as a stand-alone therapy, and in combination with other current diabetes medications such as glimepiride, pioglitazone, and metformin. It has not been tested along with insulin injections, and is not recommended for use by insulin dependent type 1 diabetics.

Tradjenta is meant to be used along with diet and exercise. People with diabetic ketoacidosis (high levels of ketones in the blood or urine) are cautioned not to use linagliptin. People taking the antibiotic rifampin, used to treat tuberculosis, should also avoid Tradjenta. The most common side effects of linagliptin were nasal congestion or a runny nose, sore throat, upper respiratory infection headache, and muscle pain.

An estimated 24 million Americans have diabetes, and up to 95 percent of them have the most common form, type 2. People with Type 2 diabetes either can't produce or are resistant to the effects of insulin, a hormone produced by the pancreas which regulates blood sugar. A lack of insulin or insulin resistance lead to high blood sugar levels, which can cause serious, and even life threatening, complications.

Some type 2 diabetics can control their blood sugar with diet and exercise, but many require oral diabetes medication or even insulin injections. The existing diabetes medications Januvia and Onglyza are also DPP-4 inhibitors. While all in the same class, the three diabetes drugs appear to have significant differences in effect, making it important that non insulin dependent diabetics have yet another option to successfully control their blood sugar.

The new diabetes medication is the first of its class to be approved at one dosage strength (5 mg) for all patients, including those with kidney or liver impairment. In another first, the diabetes drug is marketed by an alliance of Boehringer Ingelheim Pharmaceuticals Inc in Connecticut, and Eli Lilly in Indianapolis.

Enzyme Discovery May Lead to New Diabetes Medication

May 13th, 2011

Researchers at the Salk Institute for Biological Studies have discovered a mechanism that stimulates glucose production in the liver in response to a drop in blood sugar. Histone deacetylasses (HDACs) are a group of enzymes that respond to what researchers call "fasting signals".

Fasting signals kick in after long periods without food, such as overnight. HDACs are situated in liver cells, usually outside of the nucleus. The Salk researchers discovered that they move rapidly into the cell in response to fasting signals, and turn on the genes that produce glucose.

After a meal, the hormone insulin normally prompts cells to store glucose for future fuel, and turns off the liver's sugar production to avoid blood glucose from getting too high. Many people with type 2 diabetes have insulin resistance, a condition in which the body no longer responds properly to insulin, allowing the liver to continue manufacturing glucose, resulting in high blood sugar.

Currently, most type 2 diabetics are prescribed an oral diabetes medication called metformin (marketed as Glucophage XR) to help control their blood sugar levels. "Metformin is originally derived from a plant found in Western Europe called 'French lilac' or 'Goat's Rue because goats don't like to eat it, explains scientist Reuben Shaw, Ph.D., "They steered clear of the plant because it contains a compound that acts naturally to lower blood glucose in animals that eat it to prevent them from eating it again."

Shaw researched metformin to find out how it helped insulin to control blood sugar. He discovered it binds to AMPK, a metabolic regulating enzyme which blocks glucose production in the liver. A graduate student in his laboratory, Maria Mihhaylova, then delved into targets of AMPKs relevant to diabetes, eventually focusing on a family of HDACs called class II HDACs.

In collaboration with two other labs, Mihhaylova discovered that HDACs only controlled glucose synthesizing enzymes in response to the fasting hormone glucagon. "In response to the glucagon, chemical modifications on class II HDACs are removed, and they can translocate into the [liver cell] nucleus", she explains.

The team went on to perform tests on mice with dramatic results - suppression of HDACs restored blood glucose levels to near normal in four different models of type 2 diabetes. "These exciting results show that drugs that inhibit the activity of class II HDACs may be worthwhile to be pursued as potential diabetes drugs," says Shaw.

The search for a new and improved diabetes medication may get a boost from current cancer research - prescription drug companies have been developing HDAC inhibitors as anti-cancer drugs. Shaw hopes that some of the compounds they have developed could have therapeutic potential for the treatment of insulin resistance and diabetes, whether or not they are effective against cancer.

To view Shaw's explanation of his team's discovery on YouTube, >CLICK HERE<.

Diabetics May Have Super-Sticky Cholesterol

May 30th, 2011

As if having diabetes isn't troubling enough, the British Heart Foundation is now warning that type 2 diabetics are more likely to have a newly discovered super-sticky "ultra bad" form of cholesterol. This extra sticky cholesterol is more likely to adhere to and build up in the arteries, forming dangerous artery-narrowing plaque. These narrowed or blocked arteries are the cause of coronary heart disease and resulting heart attacks and strokes.

The super-sticky cholesterol, called MGmin-LDL, is formed by the bonding of a sugar molecule (such as glucose or fructose) to a lipid molecule (such as low density lipoprotein) in a process called glycation. Glycation changes the shape of LDL molecules, making them smaller and denser and creating more exposed areas that are likely to stick to artery walls.

Low density lipoprotein, or LDL, enables the transfer of lipids (fatty substances) like cholesterol and triglycerides in the bloodstream. High levels of LDL cholesterol are a major risk factor for heart disease, as is diabetes. Narrowed arteries not only reduce blood flow, they can rupture, releasing a blood clot. If the clot causes a blockage in the heart, it can cause a heart attack, and if it lands in the brain, it can cause a stroke.

In fact, America's over 25 million diabetics are twice as likely to develop heart or vascular disease as the general population, and at least sixty percent of diabetics die from a cardiovascular event such as a heart attack or stroke. There is a direct correlation between the amount of plaque in their arteries and the risk of early death for diabetics.

These new findings may help explain the increased risk of coronary heart disease in diabetics. The discovery of the relationship between blood glucose and the formation of "ultra bad" cholesterol also explains why use of the widely prescribed oral diabetes medication Glucophage (generic metformin) has been linked to a reduced risk of heart attack. The diabetes medicine is believed to block the transformation of LDL to the stickier MGmin-LDL.

It's hoped that the discovery of this new type of more harmful cholesterol will lead to advancements in the prevention and treatment of heart disease in both diabetics and the elderly, who are also more likely to develop MGmin-LDL.

"Understanding exactly how 'ultra-bad' LDL damages arteries is crucial," stresses British Heart Foundation Research Advisor Dr. Shannon Amoils, "As this knowledge could help develop new anti-cholesterol treatments for patients."

"We've known for a long time that people with diabetes are at greater risk of heart attack and stroke," says Amoils, "There is still more work to be done to untangle why this is the case, but this study is an important step in the right direction." The next step for the British researchers is to develop treatments to target this more dangerous type of cholesterol, and to help neutralize its harmful effects on diabetics' arteries.

FDA: Long-Term Use of Actos May Be Associated With Bladder Cancer

June 17th, 2011

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is informing the public that use of the diabetes medication Actos (pioglitazone) for more than one year may be associated with an increased risk of bladder cancer. Information about this risk will be added to the Warnings and Precautions section of the label for pioglitazone-containing medicines. The patient Medication Guide for these medicines will also be revised to include information on the risk of bladder cancer.

This safety information is based on FDA's review of data from a planned five-year interim analysis of an ongoing, ten-year epidemiological study1, described in FDA's September 2010 ongoing safety review and in the Data Summary. The five-year results showed that although there was no overall increased risk of bladder cancer with pioglitazone use, an increased risk of bladder cancer was noted among patients with the longest exposure to pioglitazone, and in those exposed to the highest cumulative dose of pioglitazone.

To read the Safety Announcement on the FDA website, >CLICK HERE.<

FDA Panel Recommends Against Approval of new Diabetes Medication

July 27th, 2011

diabetes medication

A panel of Food & Drug Administration advisors has voted 9 to 6 against the approval of the new oral diabetes drug, dapaglifozin. Dapaglifozin was developed by Bristol-Myers Squibb, and was to be marketed by AstraZeneca. The panel expressed concerns about both the medication's safety and its effectiveness, especially in the elderly.

Dapaglifozin proved as effective as current oral diabetes medications in otherwise healthy diabetics, but was not as effective in those with impaired kidney function. The panel was primarily concerned about a potential risk of breast and bladder cancers. In a two-year study, there were nine cases of bladder cancer and nine cases of breast cancer in the just under 5478 patients taking the new diabetes medication, compared to only one case of bladder cancer and one case of breast cancer in the 3156 patients in the control group.

There were also indications of possible kidney damage, and increased risks of genital and urinary tract infections. The panel also complained of insufficient data on which patient population the diabetes drug was best suited to, and on potential interactions with other medications.

Dapaglifozin belongs to a class of medications called SGLT2 inhibitors. SGLT2 inhibitors work by inhibiting the return of glucose filtered by the kidneys to the blood stream, redirecting it through the urinary tract to be excreted in the urine. It's believed the resulting high sugar levels in the urine is the cause of the increase in genital and urinary tract infections.

One advantage of SGLT2 inhibitors is that they work independently of insulin injections, allowing for more freedom in combining them with other diabetes medications. People taking dapaglifozin in clinical trials also lost an average of five pounds, and experienced a slight drop in blood pressure.

The panel recommendation will not only likely result in the FDA rejecting the diabetes medication, but it will also effect the approval of similar SGLT2 inhibitors being developed by a number of other major pharmaceutical companies, including Johnson & Johnson, GlaxoSmithKline, Boehringer Ingelheim and Eli Lilly.

The panel is calling for more clinical studies of the proposed diabetes drug. The FDA will make a final decision by the end of October, 2011, but given the panel's request for more trials, the approval of dapaglifozin is expected to be about two years away.

Is It Safe To Reuse An Insulin Syringe?

September 30th, 2011

Is it safe to reuse an insulin syringe? Bethany from California asked this question of Conditions Expert Dr. Otis Brawley on the health website CNN Health. Dr. Otis' answer reads in part:

"Insulin syringes are expensive, and many patients want to reuse needles to save money. Many also reuse the lancets used to prick the skin and draw blood to measure blood sugar.

You are right that the reuse of insulin syringes and lancets is dangerous. A used needle can have bacteria from the skin in and on it. Bacteria can contaminate the bottle of insulin when reinserted into the bottle. The bottled insulin is a growth medium that can allow the bacteria to reproduce. Insulin is stored in a refrigerator to prevent bacterial growth.

Certain types of bacteria when injected can be especially devastating and can even cause death. In the U.S., several thousand diabetic patients die each year due to bad sterile technique causing abscesses, skin infection and sepsis, which is generalized infection involving the blood.

There are some insulin injection devices that are designed to be reused. Insulin for these devices comes in cartridges with a needle. A new cartridge and needle is used with each dose. The cartridge system is not very useful for the patients who have to mix immediate and long acting insulin at a dose.

All of these risks [of diabetes complications] can be reduced through good blood sugar control, good diet, exercise, and taking diabetes medications properly. Mild diabetes can be controlled through diet and exercise. Moderate disease often requires oral diabetes medications, and more severe Type 2 disease requires oral diabetes medicines and insulin injections."

To read Dr. Otis' answer in its entirety, including sound advice on avoiding diabetes complications, >Click Here.<

Diabetes Drug May Help with Cancer

April 10th, 2012

According to a new study, the common diabetes drug metformin may be also used to treat cancer. Metformin is most commonly known as Glucophage, an oral glucose medication. It is often combined with other medications, each with the same basic function, to control blood sugar levels for diabetics.

Researchers say that this discovery may affect people with prostate cancer, melanoma, pancreatic or lung cancer. They administered metformin in addition to the patients' regular treatments, and had positive results. They noticed definite differences between patients treated only with tumor suppressants and patients who received tumor suppressants supplemented by metformin.

The best breakthrough with this research is that metformin is one of the least expensive diabetes medications. It ups the fighting power of tumor suppressants without significantly raising the price of cancer treatments. Cancer medications are already expensive, and with the addition of metformin, patients may not need to pay for them for as long.

If you are diabetic, or your doctor has recommended adding metformin to your cancer treatment, consider buying online. You can buy Glucophage online for significantly less from a Canadian pharmacy than an American one.