Testing It Up

Scientists hopeful that human gut cells can create insulin

Scientists from Columbia University Medical Center in New York City are hopeful that cells residing inside the human gut can be retrained to produce insulin.diabetes in older adults

For people with type 1 diabetes, their body’s natural insulin-producing cells, known as pancreatic beta cells, are destroyed by their immune system, meaning they cannot produce their own insulin.

Insulin-producing cells have been created before using stem cells, but these cells do not yet fully function like natural insulin-producing cells, the Columbia research team explained.

However, by simply turning off a particular gene, the Columbia scientists were able to convert cells in the human gut into cells that make insulin. They said the findings suggest that it may be simpler to reeducate existing cells than to replace the cells lost in type 1 diabetes using stem cell technology.

“People have been talking about turning one cell into another for a long time, but until now we hadn’t gotten to the point of creating a fully functional insulin-producing cell by the manipulation of a single target,” study senior researcher Dr. Domenico Accili, a professor of medicine at Columbia, said in a university news release.

 

June 30, 2014 at 11:52 am Comment (1)

New breakthrough for people living with diabetes

An artificial pancreas may enable people living with type 1 diabetes to eat what they want without having to worry about insulin injections. type 1 diabetes prevention using autoantibodies

The device, developed by researchers from Massachusetts General Hospital and Boston University, consists of an automated pump that releases the hormones insulin and glucagon and a glucose monitoring system controlled by an iPhone app.

The researchers have already been testing the device on patients.

“We encouraged them to eat whatever they wanted while they wore the bionic pancreas,” said Dr. Steven Russell, an endocrinologist at Massachusetts General Hospital who led the study. “They went on a diabetes vacation, eating ice cream, candy bars, and other things they normally wouldn’t eat — like taking out a new sports car and seeing what it can do.”

In the study, published online in the New England Journal of Medicine, the researchers found 52 adults and teens who used the mobile system for five days had healthier blood sugar levels compared to when they used standard treatments that required them to check their own blood sugar levels and determine how much insulin to inject via a pump device.

“This is not a cure,” said study coauthor Edward Damiano, an associate professor of biomedical engineering at Boston University who holds a patent on the software that makes the automatic dosing decisions. “It’s taking diabetes management to its ultimate potential and unburdens people with type 1 diabetes from thinking about all the things that go into managing diabetes every day of their lives.”

June 16, 2014 at 12:07 pm Comments (0)

New Type of Sweetener Could Potentially Lower Blood Sugar

A new type of sweetener, made from the same plant as tequila, might help lower blood sugar and aid in weight loss. However, research on the new sweetener has so far only been done with mice and it is not yet known if it will work on humans. diabetes testing

Agavins, which come from the agave plant, were found in mice studies to trigger insulin production and lower blood sugar and help obese mice lose weight, researchers told the American Chemical Society last week.

The reason agavins are able to do this is because they are not absorbed and metabolized by the body like sucrose, glucose and fructose are, meaning it’s impossible for them to elevate blood glucose levels according to research by Mercedes G. López, a researcher at the Centro de Investigación y de Estudios Avanzados, Biotechnology and Biochemistry Irapuato, in Guanajuato, Mexico.

Plus, agavins boost the level of a peptide called GLP-1 (short for glucagon-like peptide-1), which triggers the body’s production of insulin, aiding the body’s natural blood sugar control. And, being a type of fiber, agavins can make people feel fuller and reduce appetite, López’s research shows.

“We believe that agavins have a great potential as light sweeteners since they are sugars, highly soluble, have a low glycemic index, and a neutral taste, but most important, they are not metabolized by humans,” read the study abstract. “This puts agavins in a tremendous position for their consumption by obese and diabetic people.”

However, people shouldn’t expect to see agavins on store shelves any time soon, as more research will need to be done to see if they produce the same effect on humans as they had in mice.

March 17, 2014 at 6:31 am Comments (0)

Study: Type 2 Diabetes Risk Shared Between Spouses

“In sickness and in health” is what a married couple vow during their wedding day. Unfortunately, when it comes to diabetes, couples are more likely to be talking about the “in sickness” part.

couple drinkingA new study released by Canada’s McGill University Health Centre shows that people diagnosed with Type 2 Diabetes will most likely share the disease with their spouse. No, diabetes is not contagious or airborne, but it’s somehow related to a shared lifestyle. This is an additional risk factor, aside from diabetes being a disease passed on from one family generation to the next.

“When we talk about family history of type 2 diabetes, we generally assume that the risk increase that clusters in families results from genetic factors. What our analyses demonstrate is that risk is shared by spouses,” according to lead study author Kaberi Dasgupta in a news release.

The study revealed that living with a partner with Type 2 Diabetes increases your chances of getting the disease by 26 percent. The results were analyzed from more than 75,000 couples across six earlier studies on diabetes risk factors: genetics, age, financial status, among others.

The risk of developing Type 2 Diabetes increases due to unhealthy lifestyle choices, so living with someone who makes these unhealthy choices will lead you to do the same. As a result, your chances of getting diabetes will also rise, according to the study published in the BMC Medicine journal.

The team of researchers believe that diabetes prevention should be done by the couple together, by choosing healthier options, eating the right food, and engaging in a more active lifestyle.

January 25, 2014 at 7:39 pm Comments (0)

Google Aims to Make Finger Pricking for Diabetics a Thing of the Past

Google has gone medical with its tech innovations by working on development of a contact lens that will use special sensors to monitor diabetes blood sugar levels. diabetes

The lens works by measuring blood sugar levels in tears using a tiny wireless chip and miniature blood-sugar sensor embedded between two layers of soft contact lens material. The lenses check blood sugar once a second and may feature tiny lights that would come on as an early warning of dangerous blood sugar levels.

“Uncontrolled blood sugar puts people at risk for a range of dangerous complications, some short-term and others longer term, including damage to the eyes, kidneys, and heart,” the project’s co-founders, Brian Otis and Babak Parviz, wrote on Google’s blog. ”A friend of ours told us she worries about her mom, who once passed out from low blood sugar and drove her car off the road.”

Currently, diabetics have to rely on pinprick blood tests to monitor blood sugar levels. However, tears can also show blood sugar levels, although they are difficult to collect.

Google’s announcement doesn’t give details of medical trials or when the lenses might be available. It says it is working with the FDA and looking for partners to help develop the lenses.

“It’s still early days for this technology, but we’ve completed multiple clinical research studies, which are helping to refine our prototype,” the project team says. “We hope this could someday lead to a new way for people with diabetes to manage their disease.”

January 20, 2014 at 7:22 am Comments (0)

Insulin Pill May be on the Way

PillsIndian researchers say they may have found a way to deliver insulin in pill form, according to a study published in the journal Biomacromolecules.

The pill could deliver insulin that is now delivered via needle, says lead researcher Sanyog Jain of the National Institute of Pharmaceutical Education and Research in India.

Although researchers have been working on an insulin pill for years, it’s been a struggle, as the digestive enzymes in the body that break down food also break down insulin before it has the chance to work, plus the gut finds it hard to absorb the insulin, meaning it does not easily reach the bloodstream.

However, in studies with rats, researchers have found a way to deliver insulin in pill form by packaging it in small fat sacs called liposomes, which are “bubbles” made out of the same material as cell membranes.The liposomes were then coated in layers of protective molecules called polyelectrolytes, changing the liposomes into “layeromes” and protecting the insulin from digestive enzymes.

Finally, To assist these layeromes in getting through to the bloodstream, the researchers attached folic acid to them. Also known as vitamin B9, folic acid, is a water-soluble compound the researchers say is known to help carry liposomes through the intestinal wall and into the bloodstream.

Researchers found that insulin pills reduced blood glucose levels in rats almost as much as insulin injections, giving hope that diabetics may one day be able to pop a pill rather than inject insulin.
December 24, 2013 at 7:10 am Comments (0)

Addiction Treatment Vastly Improved Under New Law HealthCare Law, Expert Says

drug abuse treatmentOne of the architects of the Affordable Care Act says addiction treatment will be given a much-needed upgrade.

Addiction expert A. Thomas McLellan, who has more than 35 years of experience in addiction treatment research, helped craft President Obama’s signature health care law

He says the current treatment model was developed in the 1970s specifically for returning Vietnam War veterans when addiction was still thought of as primarily a lifestyle choice rather than a chronic illness, which it is recognized as today.

That treatment model focused on segregating addiction care from the rest of the health care system and treating only the most severe addicts for a set amount of time before releasing them to manage their own addiction.

That model would never be used for treating other chronic diseases, like diabetes, McLellan said during a presentation at the Penn Foundation in West Rockhill recently.

After getting specialty care for diabetes, for example, “Nobody hugs and cries and sends you off to a church basement,” McLellan said. “That is called malpractice.”

Patients with chronic diseases are stabilized and returned to their primary care physicians with a plan for continuing care, McLellan noted. And this is how the Affordable Care Act treats addiction, he pointed out, with Medicaid reimbursements structured just like those for diabetes care, he said.

October 17, 2013 at 5:57 am Comments (0)

Government shutdown wreaking havoc on important medical research

Medical research is being set back and could end up costing thousands of extra dollars thanks to the government shutdown.

The shutdown will likely mean that thousands of mice used in research on diseases like cancer, Alzheimer’s and diabetes will die prematurely, wasting the research that was ongoing with them and costing thousands of dollars to replace once research can get back up and running again. mice cancer

Federal research centers including the National Institutes of Health (NIH) will have to cull some of the mice to prevent overcrowding while other specifically genetically modified lines of mice will die on their own because they must be constantly monitored by scientists. Many NIH researchers have been banned from their own laboratories due to the shutdown and therefore cannot do the necessary monitoring, scientists from Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore told National Public Radio (NPR). While the school is not affected by the government shutdown, NPR talked to scientists there who have experience with brief government shutdowns in the past. NIH research scientists are not doing media interviews.

The loss of transgenic mice (mice that have genes that cause them to develop versions of human diseases) is especially bad because one of these mice can cost thousands of dollars to replace and some simply cannot be replaced.

“I’m sure it’s chaos at the NIH for anyone doing mouse experiments,” says John Hopkins researcher Roger Reeves, who was affected by a government shutdown in the 1980s at a government run lab.

To maintain a colony of transgenic mice, every new pup must have its DNA tested by a highly trained researcher. Although laboratories may still have animal care staff who are still allowed into the labs, they would not be able to do the necessary testing on the mice, meaning NIH scientists probably had to choose which mice would be sacrificed during the shutdown.

If the shutdown goes on for too long, entire lines of mice will have to be eliminated and have the embryos frozen to be revived later. Reviving a line of mice like this can take months and cost thousands of dollars, Reeves says.

 

October 11, 2013 at 5:50 am Comments (0)

Mediterranean Diet May Counter Risk of Stroke

A Mediterranean Diet that is high in olive oil and nuts may counter the risk of stroke in people who are genetically predisposed to get diabetes, a new study has found.

The findings, which were published online Aug. 13 in the journal Diabetes Care, suggest, but don’t conclusively prove strokethat the diet lowers or even eliminates the extra risk of stroke, perhaps by lowering the rate of diabetes.

“Our work has placed a solid step on the ladder of personalized nutrition and successful health,” said study co-author Jose Ordovas, director of the nutrition and genomics laboratory at Tufts University’s USDA Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging.

Although foods vary from the different regions of Greece, Spain and southern Italy, the Mediterranean diet is generally defined as emphasizing olive oil, nuts, fresh produce and fish along with whole grains, seeds and healthier kinds of fat. There’s less focus on dairy products and meat, and limited consumption of pasta.

In the study, researchers randomly assigned more than 7,000 people aged 55 to 80 in Spain to eat a low-fat diet, or a Mediterranean diet high in nuts, or a Mediterranean diet high in extra-virgin olive oil. Researchers then followed the participants for an average of five years through 2010.

Some of the participants had a genetic trait in common: a mutation in a gene that boosts the risk of type 2 diabetes by as much as 50% compared to others with another form of the gene. Ordovas said that about 30% of white people have the riskiest form of the mutation.

Those with the mutation who went on the low-fat diet were nearly three times more likely than others to have a stroke, the investigators found. But those who went on the Mediterranean diets had about an equal level of risk as those without the genetic mutation.

The percentage of people in the various groups who suffered strokes ranged from 1.4% to 4.3%.

“Switching to a Mediterranean diet is not going to hurt anybody, and it will help those people with risk factors or a family history of disease,” Ordovas said. “However, if switching is not totally possible, then incorporating elements of this diet such as extra-virgin olive oil, nuts, veggies, fruits, will get you somewhere. Or better yet, exchanging less healthy items with those in the diet.”

August 15, 2013 at 5:42 am Comments (0)

FDA Warns Against Scam Diabetes Treatments

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has issued a warning to consumers to be wary of diabetes treatments that promise to prevent, treat, and even cure diabetes.

diabetes monitoringThe organization warns consumers not to purchase or use these products, as they may contain harmful ingredients and be unsafe to use. Some of the treatments are being marketed as over-the-counter products when they should be marketed as a prescription product and they also carry an additional risk if they cause people with diabetes to delay or quit their effective diabetes treatments.

“People with chronic or incurable diseases may feel desperate and become easy prey. Bogus products for diabetes are particularly troubling because there are effective options available to help manage this serious disease rather than exposing patients to unproven and risky products,” Dr. Gary Coody, national health fraud coordinator for the FDA, said. “Failure to follow well-established treatment plans can lead to, among other things, amputations, kidney disease, blindness and death.”

The FDA has already sent out over a dozen letters to companies selling the illicit diabetes treatments warning them that they are violating federal law.

The products are often sold as dietary supplements; alternative medicines, prescription drugs and over-the-counter drugs, including homeopathic products.

Examples of claims from these illegally marketed products include:

  • “Lower your blood sugar naturally.”
  • “Lowers A1C levels significantly.”
  • “You’ll lower your chances of having eye disease, kidney disease, nerve damage and heart disease!”
  • “It can replace medicine in the treatment of diabetes.”
  • “For Relief of Diabetic Foot Pain.”

The FDA tested products marketed as “all natural” treatments for diabetes and discovered some of them contained one or more active ingredients found in prescription drugs to treat type 2 diabetes.

These undeclared ingredients can cause serious harm to people who do not know what they are taking and are unable to tell their physician what they are taking.

Health care professionals and consumers are encouraged to report any adverse events related to products intended to treat or cure diabetes to FDA’s MedWatch Safety Information and Adverse Event Reporting Program:

August 14, 2013 at 6:27 am Comments (0)

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