Diabetes Updates - KCBD NewsChannel 11 Lubbock

5/14/02

Diabetes Updates

You'll find Diabetes in the headlines of several different reports, since the Journal of the American Medical Association has come out with a series of updates on the disease.

First, some concern about a common drug used to help the body use Insulin. The drug is Metformin, which is sold as Glucophage. The manufacturer says up front that in rare cases, Glucophage can cause a buildup of lactic acid in the blood, and that half those cases of Lactic Acidosis can be fatal.

But here's what the JAMA report brings into view -- that even though the label says Glucophage should not be taken by patients with kidney disease or patients also taking drugs for heart failure. There is evidence that nearly 1/4 of the patients taking Glucophage meet something in that criteria, and that means, it could prove deadly more often than the warning sounds.

The bottom line: if you are taking Glucophage and are also suffering from kidney disease or are taking medication for heart disease, talk to your doctor about the potential risk of Lactic Acidosis.

Meanwhile, heart disease is the focus of another JAMA report looking at Diabetes updates. This one concludes that it's not a sugar problem, but it is heart trouble that eventually kills 2/3 of the people with Diabetes. However, it says the good news in all this is that the heart damaging effects of Diabetes can be reduced by controlling your weight, cholesterol, and blood pressure.

Finally, new hope for the million Americans who suffer from Type 1, or Juvenile Diabetes. That's where the body can't make Insulin to burn sugar, something you have to keep under control with frequent injections -- but now, a breakthrough procedure.

Here's how it works: the researchers obtain donated pancreas tissue containing the cells that make Insulin. They remove those cells and keep them alive in lab dishes. Because Diabetes destroys a patient's pancreas, doctors transfuse the new cells into the liver instead, where they turn out Insulin as needed.

"We have been attempting this since 1985, and finally, we have something that works everyday," says Dr. Rodolfo Alejandro, Diabetes Research Institute.

"Unbelievable is all I can say -- just to have your life being back to normal. You can hardly even put a price tag on it," says Ken Tenbusch, patient volunteer.

For now, it is not a cure for everyone. There are, of course, limits on the number of donated organs available, and patients must take drugs to keep their body from rejecting the transplanted tissue. So the big push now is to use stem cells or find some other kind of cells to grow unlimited quantities of tissue -- that would ultimately be the cure for Type 1 Diabetes.

The lead researcher of the Glucophage Study is with Campbell University in North Carolina. For more information, you can (click here).

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