Researcher developing diabetes Type 2 treatment
CTV.ca News Staff
A Canadian researcher believes he may have found the next best thing to a cure for for the most common type of diabetes.
“The theory is right now we can stop the progression of the disease,” said Dr. Wayne Lautt, a University of Manitoba pharmacology professor and president of DiaMedica.
Lautt and his team of researchers at DiaMedica have discovered a new hormone called HISS.
It is released in the liver after a meal. It helps deliver and store sugar in the muscles, which is what gives people energy.
Scientists had previously thought that job was done by insulin alone.
There are two types of diabetes: Type One, which results from a lack of insulin, and Type Two, which is also known as adult-onset diabetes. It occurs because although people have normal insulin levels, they can’t store blood sugar properly. This eventually damages the pancreas and hurts insulin production.
As a result, patients like Heather Wenzell eventually need to start insulin injections.
Type Two affects about 90 per cent of diabetics. Its incidence is rising because Canadians are becoming more obese.
“It is becoming epidemic,” said Dr. Vincent Woo, an endrocrinologist.
There are more than two million Canadians living with the disease today. That number is expected to jump to three million by 2010.
World-wide, about 126 million people have Type Two diabetes.
Not only that, about half of Type Two diabetics don’t realize they have the condition.
Lautt and his team found that people developing Type Two diabetes have low levels of HISS or none at all.
They are trying to develop a simple blood test to determine the hormone’s level in a person’s blood — a measure which could help to detect Type Two diabetes up to 15 year earlier.
“Basically our drugs will be targeting that nerve signal,” he said.
Most existing diabetes treatments look to boost insulin levels or reduce blood sugar levels.
Clinical trials in Canada are expected to begin in a year, but Lautt’s collaborators in Portugal have conducted some human tests.
“Global sales of drugs to treat Type 2 diabetes totaled approximately $6 billion in 2000 and are expected to grow to $20 billion by 2006, with the majority of growth in oral drugs,” said a report by the Biotechnology Industry Organization.
“DiaMedica’s technology has application for both the treatment and early diagnosis of Type Two diabetes.”