Any of you remember the days when duct tape was actually used to repair and seal ductwork? Of course you don’t. It’s one of the greatest examples ever of a product being utilized for purposes outside their original intent. Wallets, bags, prom dresses, even fixing up an airplane wing. If the inventors of the adhesive wonder had had any idea….
Wouldn’t it be awesome if disease treatments worked like that too? I mean, some do. The drug we know far and wide as Rogaine was originally marketed as a treatment for high blood pressure. Its curious side effects are now, of course, the hope of millions.
On a similar note of interest in current news, Dr. Paul Ernsberger and company of the Case Western Reserve University Department of Nutrition have published a research article in journal of Experimental Biology and Medicine in which they examined the potential for a diabetes drug, sitagliptin, to prevent the onset of type 2 diabetes in the first place.For those of you a bit unfamiliar with diabetes, first understand what happens when you ingest something. As food is digested, the glucose sugar molecule enters the bloodstream – this is our body’s source of fuel. In response, the pancreas makes insulin, whose job it is to get the glucose from the bloodstream into the cells of our muscles, liver, fat, etc. to supply our energy needs. Diabetes is the result of a high level of glucose in the blood, due to one of two faults in this system.
Type 1 diabetes, more commonly occurring in children, is caused by a defect of a person’s body to properly produce insulin. Type 2 diabetes is much more common and more likely will present in adulthood. Poor dietary and exercise habits lead to higher and higher levels of glucose because of the body’s eventual inability to respond to insulin secreted by the pancreas. People on this path prior to disease onset are said to have pre-diabetes. This onset is what we hope to stop.
Sitagliptin, known more commonly as Januvia, is a drug used in conjunction with diet and exercise to treat Type 2 diabetes. It works in two ways – by stimulating insulin excretion by the pancreas, and diminishing production a molecule called glucagon (which works in opposition of insulin).
In this study, the researchers used an animal model of pre-diabetes (rats with symptoms similar to humans showing pre-diabetes) to see what effect sitagliptin might have in prevention of type 2 diabetes onset. I should note, one symptom of pre-diabetes is increased levels of glucagon. Ah-hah….catching on? The study found that this drug was capable of increasing total insulin output following a meal, and restored glucagon levels to normal in these pre-diabetic rats. The drug even affected body fat distribution, relocating deposits to areas less associated with disease risk.
There’s a few open questions left but the promise behind this drug as a new preventative treatment remains. The authors of this study are pushing for clinical trials to determine the effectiveness, and let’s hope for their success. We may then find a solid way of preventing diabetes disease onset in individuals at risk, numbering some 40 million in these United States.
Thanks & Gig ‘Em.