Washington: Scientists are working on new personalized way of treating people who have stress-related diabetes.
Researchers at Lund University in Sweden have been testing a treatment for type 2 diabetes, which targets the disease mechanism itself and not just the symptoms. For the first time, knowledge about the individual patient's genetic risk profile is being used, and the treatment completely restores the capacity to secrete insulin, which is impaired by the risk gene.
Anders Rosengren, who's in charge of the project said the concept of treatment personalized to the individual's risk profile had great potential, and their results showed that it it was possible to block the effects of a common risk gene for type 2 diabetes.
The study work showed that Yohimbin, a drug that had been deregistered for several years, effectively blocked the gene variant's damaging effects both in animal experiments and in experiments with donated human insulin-producing cells. When Yohimbin was administered, the capacity to secrete insulin improved.
With a known disease mechanism and a method to neutralise it, the obvious next step was to test it on patients.
50 patients with type 2 diabetes were recruited. 21 of them did not have the risk variant, while the remainder were carriers. All of them underwent a glucose tolerance test, which shows how well insulin secretion responds to excess sugar load. Not unexpectedly, the secretion was 25 per cent worse in patients who had the risk gene.
Subsequently, all participants in the study were given either Yohimbin or a placebo on three different occasions and insulin secretion was registered again.
Yunzhao Tang, principal author of the recently published article, said that the drug neutralised the effects of the risk gene. The carriers of the risk gene gained the same capacity to secrete insulin as those without the risk variant.
Anders Rosengren, added that Yohimbin must be modified to reduce side-effects, in this case raised blood pressure, and should be tested on more patients before it could become a clinical drug. Theoretically, the drug should be effective for the 40 per cent of type 2 diabetes sufferers who are carriers of the genetic risk variant.