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Diabetes News

Archive - 07 - 2007

Insulin Grown in Plants Relieves Diabetes in Mice; UCF Study Holds Promise for Humans

Posted by dlife on Tue, Jul 31, 07, 10:08 AM 0 Comment

Henry Daniell's results and prior research indicate that insulin capsules could someday be used to prevent diabetes before symptoms appear and treat the disease in its later stagesJuly 31, 2007 (EurekAlert) - Capsules of insulin produced in genetically modified lettuce could hold the key to restoring the bodys ability to produce insulin and help millions of Americans who suffer from insulin-dependent diabetes, according to University of Central Florida biomedical researchers.Professor Henry Daniells research team genetically engineered tobacco plants with the insulin gene and then administered freeze-dried plant cells to five-week-old diabetic mice as a powder for eight weeks. By the end of the study, the diabetic mice had normal blood and urine sugar levels, and their cells were producing normal levels of insulin. Those results and prior research indicate that insulin capsules could someday be used to prevent diabetes before symptoms appear and treat the disease in its later stages, Daniell said. He has since proposed using lettuce instead of tobacco to produce the insulin because that crop can be produced cheaply and avoids the negative stigma associated with tobacco.The National Institutes of Health provided $2 million to fund the UCF study. The findings are reported in the July issue of Plant Biotechnology Journal. Insulin-dependent, or Type 1, diabetes is an autoimmune disease in which the bodys immune system attacks and destroys insulin and insulin-producing beta cells in the pancreas. Insulin is a hormone that is needed to convert sugar, starches and other food into energy. Insulin typically is given through shots and not pills so the hormone can go straight into the bloodstream. In Daniells method, plant cell walls made of cellulose initially prevent insulin from degrading. When the plant cells containing insulin reach the intestine, bacteria living there begin to slowly break down the cell walls and gradually release insulin into the bloodstream.Currently, the only relief for diabetes is a momentary relief, Daniell said. Diabetics still have to monitor their blood and urine sugar levels. They have to inject themselves with insulin several times a day. Having a permanent solution for this, Im sure, would be pretty exciting.Though produced in lettuce, the insulin would be delivered to human patients as a powder in capsules because the dosage must be controlled carefully.If human trials are successful, the impact of Daniells research could affect millions of diabetics worldwide and dramatically reduce the costs of fighting a disease that can lead to heart and kidney diseases and blindness.About 20.8 million children and adults in the United States, or about 7 percent of the population, have Type 1 or 2 diabetes, according to the American Diabetes Association. The number of Americans with diabetes is projected to double by 2025, according to a study released last month by the National Changing Diabetes Program during a congressional briefing. That study by Mathematica Policy Research Inc. also reported that one of every eight federal health care dollars $79.7 billion out of $645 billion -- is spent on treating people with diabetes.Diabetes is a big health and financial burden in the United States and in the rest of the world, Daniell said. This study would facilitate a dramatic change because so far there is no medicine that will cure insulin-dependent diabetes.Daniells method of growing insulin in plants is similar to what he used for an earlier study to produce anthrax vaccine in tobacco. In the earlier study, which also involved mice, Daniell showed and the National Institutes of Health confirmed that enough safe anthrax vaccine to inoculate everyone in the United States could be grown inexpensively in only one acre of tobacco plants

Diabetes Drugs Increase Risk of Heart Failure, Research Shows

Posted by dlife on Mon, Jul 30, 07, 09:33 AM 0 Comment

July 30, 2007 (EurekAlert) A class of drugs commonly used to treat type 2 diabetes may double the risk of heart failure, according to a new analysis by researchers at Wake Forest University School of Medicine and colleagues.Based on a review of research studies and case reports involving more than 78,000 patients, the authors concluded that the risk of heart failure may be up to 100 percent higher (depending on the type of study) in patients taking thiazolinediones (which includes Avandia and Actos). These drugs are known to enhance insulin sensitivity. The authors estimated that one additional patient with type 2 diabetes would develop heart failure for every 50 patients taking the drugs over a 26-month period.The results were published online in May 2007 by Diabetes Care and will appear in the August print issue.These drugs are currently used by more than 3 million diabetic patients in the U.S. alone, suggesting that several thousand could be harmed, said Sonal Singh, M.D., lead author and an assistant professor in internal medicine at Wake Forest.Earlier this year, one of the drugs in this class (Avandia) was linked to an increased risk of heart attack and death from cardiovascular causes.The current analysis looked at a potential link between the drugs and heart failure, which is the inability of the heart to meet the bodys demands. Heart failure is a very common condition in the elderly and one of the costliest to society. Common symptoms include shortness of breath and the inability to exercise including, in some cases, even to walk short distances.The authors hypothesize that fluid retention caused by the drugs may trigger heart failure in susceptible people. Heart failure occurred equally at high and low doses. In fact, heart failure even occurred in some patients who were taking doses below those commonly prescribed. The medium time for the onset of heart failure was 24 weeks after beginning drug therapy. The adverse reaction was not limited to the elderly one-quarter of cases occurred in people younger than 60. Heart failure occurred equally among men and women.The product label for both drugs warns against their use in patients with more severe cases of heart failure. The label also cautions about the increased risk of heart failure if used in combination with insulin. However, the current analysis found that the risk wasnt confined just to patients on insulin, and it occurred even among patients without any risk factors for heart failure. Our findings support current efforts by the FDA to add a black box warning to the labeling for those agents, said co-investigator Curt Furberg, M.D., Ph.D., from Wake Forest.The occurrence of heart failure several months after initiation of treatment suggests a long-term effect of the drugs, which may not be avoided by beginning with low doses, said Singh.The authors called for additional research to evaluate whether there are differences between drugs in the class and how to best manage patients who experience heart failure while on the drugs.

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