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Tests Begin for Diabetes ‘Cure’

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Jan. 18, 2002 — A medicate that cures diabetes in lab animals at last has begun human tests. The radical idea behind the sedate — still dubious — is that a person’s body can rebuild its own broken-down affront manufacturing plants.

The drug doesn’t even have a catchy name yet. Its inventors — Lawrence Rosenberg, MD, PhD, of Canada’s McGill University and Aaron I. Vinik, MD, of East Virginia Therapeutic School, Norfolk — call it INGAP peptide. It stands for islets neogenesis-associated protein. Its correct meaning is still hazy.

Individuals with diabetes require insulin when their own insulin-making cells die off. These cells, called beta cells or islet cells, live in the pancreas. The new sedate is a chemical courier that tells ordinary pancreas cells to turn into islet cells.

“If we may recover insulin-producing cells, in theory it would cruel that patients would not have to take insulin,” Rosenberg tells Web. “We have to be compelled to know in case these cells, as well, will pass on off. We do not have any difficult prove that this will or will not happen.”

The discovery of INGAP began incidentally. Working to develop a laboratory demonstrate of pancreas illness, Rosenberg and Vinik wrapped an animal pancreas in cellophane. To their surprise, the isolated pancreas began to grow unused islet cells. Advance research showed that this happened because the pancreas was making INGAP. Later considers showed that only a small parcel of INGAP — INGAP peptide — was required to fortify growth of unused islet cells. Eventually, the researchers discovered the INGAP quality and learned how to make large quantities of the INGAP peptide.

What appears to happen is that the pancreas features a huge reservoir of cells that act like stem cells. When they get the correct flag, they turn into insulin-making islet cells.

“This can be an region of dynamic and possibly very fruitful investigation,” diabetes master Leann Olansky, MD, tells WebMD. Olansky, an endocrinologist at the College of Oklahoma, says that several diverse inquire about groups are working to create operators that fortify the growth of modern islet cells.

Just making modern islet cells might not be sufficient. The cells still ought to act right. They must make affront when — and only when — the effective hormone is needed.

This seems to happen. Animals with diabetes-like infection had increased affront production and lower sugar levels in the blood after a single dosage of INGAP peptide.

Even in the event that the new islet cells work, they have to be compelled to survive. The stress is that anything killed off the original islet cells will slaughter the unused cells, too. But this doesn’t appear to happen within the case of islet cells transplanted from an organ giver.

As of now, a major clinical ponder is investigating the use of islet-cell transplants to treat diabetes. Such transplants seem result in a cure — but there’s a enormous problem. It takes two givers to provide enough islet cells for a single transplant. Only 3,000 giver organs become available each year. There are a few 800,000 people with type 1 diabetes.

“The issues surrounding islet transplant are exceptionally complex, and the drawback is there fair aren’t enough donors and never will be,” Rosenberg says. “The next era approach will be stem cells, where you’ll develop your possess islets exterior the body. The problem is you’ve got to have a source of stem cells. For the predictable future, that’s not a reasonable elective either. The advantage of our approach is that we will generate stem cells so that everything happens in the person’s body. We as it were kick begin the process and the body takes care of the rest. That is the beauty of it.”

The starting human study will test the security of INGAP peptide. A planned 62 patients with sort 1 or type 2 diabetes will receive expanding doses. The trial is taking place at three therapeutic centers: the College of Texas Health Science Center, San Antonio; the College of North Carolina, Chapel Hill; and the MedStar Inquire about Institute, Washington, D.C.

INGAP peptide is protected by the two colleges and licensed to GMP Companies Inc., Ft. Lauderdale, Fla. An earlier authorizing agreement with Eli Lilly and Company lapsed, Rosenberg says.

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