NASHVILLE, Tenn. (Ivanhoe Newswire) -- What do Thomas Edison, Elvis Presley and Jackie Gleason all have in common? The same thing they have in common with 23.5 million Americans today… diabetes. Now, a new drug, an old drug, and some bugs are helping to ease the suffering.
By studying bugs, entomologist Bruce Hammock, Ph.D., from the University of California, Davis, created a first-of-its kind diabetic drug.
“We were asking how caterpillars turned into butterflies,” Hammock told Ivanhoe. “We found this enzyme in insects that control metamorphosis.”
The enzyme is also found in humans and controls lipids. Taken like aspirin, it can remove the joint pain diabetics endure.
A breakthrough awaiting FDA approval right now would allow type 1 and type 2 diabetics to end their insulin injections. An inhaled-powder called insulin Afrerzza is absorbed through the lungs. Taken with food, it controls the boost in blood sugar levels diabetics deal with following a meal.
Daniel Albright is testing an old drug with a new purpose. He's getting monthly infusions of an arthritis drug called abatacept.
“When you’re first diagnosed with diabetes, you have anywhere from 10 to 30 percent of your insulin-producing cells still available, and we’d like to freeze it there,” William Russell, M.D., director of pediatric endocrinology & diabetes at Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Nashville, told Ivanhoe.
The drug keeps Daniel’s immune system from killing the insulin-producing cells he has left. In animals, it prevented the rise of full-blown diabetes. For Albright, it means using less insulin and no pump.
“I still don’t have to take near as much as I would,” Albright said. “I’m pretty thankful for that.”
Not all breaking news is taking place in the lab. Something as simple as eating bran could have a major impact on the lives of diabetics as well. A new Nurses Health Study reveals women with type two diabetes who ate the most bran had a 35-percent lower risk of death from cardiovascular disease.
BACKGROUND: Diabetes is a chronic lifelong disease marked by high levels of sugar in the blood. According to the New York Time’s Health Guide, people with diabetes have high blood sugar because their pancreas does not make enough insulin and their muscle, fat and liver cells do not respond to insulin normally.
According to the Center for Disease and Control, the number of Americans with diabetes tripled from 5.6 million to 17.4 million since 1980. In 2009, about 5.9 percent of the United States population reported they had diabetes.
TYPES: There are two main types of diabetes. Type 1, which occurs when the pancreas does not produce enough insulin to properly control blood sugar levels. And type 2, is marked by high levels of sugar in the blood stream and is the more common of the two diabetes types.
THREE NEW DRUGS: Taken like aspirin, this new drug uses enzymes found in insects to control metamorphosis. A study by entomologist Bruce Hammock shows that this enzyme can remove the joint pain diabetic’s have to deal with.
Waiting FDA approval, an inhaled-powder could eliminate insulin injections for type 1 and type 2 diabetics. Taken with food, the insulin Afrezza is absorbed through the lungs and it controls the boost in blood sugar levels diabetics’ deal with following a meal. The particles immediately dissolve upon contact with the lung surface, releasing insulin monomers that rapidly enter the bloodstream.
Used on arthritis patients, this drug called Abatacept keeps the immune system of the patient from killing the insulin producing cells the patient has left. Abatacept has been tested in animals and results showed that the drug prevented the rise of full blown diabetes.
©2007 The E.W. Scripps Co. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.
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