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Scientists announce new treatment for type II diabetes

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September 28, 2012

A team of scientists has devised a new approach to treating type II diabetes (Photo: Shutt...

A team of scientists has devised a new approach to treating type II diabetes (Photo: Shutterstock)

According to the World Health Organization, there are currently 347 million diabetics worldwide, with 90 percent of those people having type II diabetes specifically. It occurs when fat accumulates in places such as muscles, blood vessels and the heart, causing the cells in those areas to no longer be sufficiently responsive to insulin. This insulin resistance, in turn, causes blood glucose levels to rise to dangerous levels. Ultimately, it can result in things such as heart disease, strokes, blindness, kidney failure, and amputations. Fortunately, however, an international team of scientists has just announced a new way of treating the disease.

Currently, one of the main ways of treating type II diabetes involves switching the patient to a healthier diet and increasing the amount of exercise they get – the disease is most often caused by obesity. Additionally, oral medication can be used to increase insulin production and the body’s sensitivity to it, or to decrease glucose production. For approximately 30 percent of patients, however, such medication ceases to be effective after a few years, and they end up having to receive regular insulin injections.

The new treatment focuses on VEGF-B, a protein within the body that affects how fat is transported and stored. Using an antibody/drug known as 2H10, the scientists were able to block the signaling of VEGF-B in mice and rats, which subsequently kept fat from accumulating in the “wrong” areas of the animals – namely their muscles, blood vessels and hearts.

In one experiment, rodents that were bred to develop diabetes were given the antibody before onset of the disease. As a result, they never did develop type II diabetes. In other experiments, regular rats and mice were made to develop the disease, through obesity caused by a fat-rich diet. After receiving 2H10, however, progression of the disease was halted and reversed.

“We discovered VEGF-B back in 1995, and since then the VEGF-B project has been a lengthy sojourn in the wilderness, but now we're making one important discovery after the other,” said Prof. Ulf Eriksson of Sweden’s Karolinska Institutet, which is leading the initiative. “In this present study we've shown that VEGF-B inhibition can be used to prevent and treat type II diabetes, and that this can be done with a drug candidate.”

A number of other institutions are also involved in the project, including the Ludwig Institute for Cancer Research and the Australian biopharmaceutical company CSL Limited, which is developing the drug.

A paper on the research was published this Wednesday in the journal Nature.

Source: Karolinska Institutet

About the Author
Ben Coxworth An experienced freelance writer, videographer and television producer, Ben's interest in all forms of innovation is particularly fanatical when it comes to human-powered transportation, film-making gear, environmentally-friendly technologies and anything that's designed to go underwater. He lives in Edmonton, Alberta, where he spends a lot of time going over the handlebars of his mountain bike, hanging out in off-leash parks, and wishing the Pacific Ocean wasn't so far away.   All articles by Ben Coxworth
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14 Comments

Many years ago a doctor discovered that 90+% of alcoholics drank either gin tonics, vodka tonics, or whiskey tonics and then spent years trying to figure out what it was about quinine that caused alcoholism. It has since been proven that quinine does not cause alcoholism.

A high percentage of people but not all suffering from type II diabetes have a history of being fat before developing the diabetes so clearly being fat causes type II diabetes. I DON'T THINK SO. I find it more likely that both type II diabetes and obesity have a common cause giving a high correlation between being fat and getting type II diabetes.

Slowburn
28th September, 2012 @ 03:25 pm PDT

@Slowburn

I agree with this thesis. I've experienced myself that fat accumulates in the wrong places (hips, on spine, etc) if I don't exercise and hardly move at all and that I feel miserable in this state. I don't believe that this fat is mainly a cause but rather a symptom of a metabolic problem. It has already been shown that being fat is not such a big risk factor for those who exercise regularly.

I think that there's basically one thing that the evolutionary process was never able to anticipate: the under use of certain biological mechanisms such as the immune system, cardiovascular system, mitochondria, etc.

kwarks
28th September, 2012 @ 06:31 pm PDT

In the USA the DOT and FAA have health issues with commercial drivers and pilots the metabolic issue has been a real problems sedentary daily activity doesn't help. This new drug really sounds great. I was in the RX business a long time and this new drug if it works should have a profound impact on the RX business. Hopefully it will because the RX business has ruined countless lives of people with metabolic issue related diseases . In LTC SNF and RCF the prisons of health care are opportunitys to stop health care industry abuse. It was so disgusting to see the people have no quality of life because they are immobilized to prevent liability from falling and the meds contributed to more attrition. Health care maintenance with this new drug can possibly solve the obesity problem. The crap we eat that has high fructose corn syrup ingredient I believe is the major cause of obesity ought to be banned from commercial use by the FDA.

Bryce Guenther
1st October, 2012 @ 08:58 am PDT

I'm curious if this relates at all to the success from gastric bypass surgery that 'cured' diabetes the following day. http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2008/04/17/60minutes/main4023451.shtml

ghpacific
1st October, 2012 @ 09:49 am PDT

I was diagnosed as T2 at age 62 and am not obese. I take medication and exercise but the effect of the meds is reducing. I hope this new treatment becomes available before I have to inject insulin/

anobium
1st October, 2012 @ 12:09 pm PDT

Dr Slowburn is correct. Obesity and DB2 are symptoms.

The cause is... eating too much junk? D'uh!

nutcase
2nd October, 2012 @ 02:03 am PDT

@kwarks: "the evolutionary process was never able to anticipate"

Evolution doesn't anticipate.

"I don't believe that this fat is mainly a cause but rather a symptom of a metabolic problem. It has already been shown that being fat is not such a big risk factor for those who exercise regularly."

The metabolic problem being eating too much of the wrong things. People who exercise regularly tend not to be fat, not least because exercising regularly tends to make you less fat. Say, if you threw in a little dietary moderation and selectivity, you could be onto something...

Synchro
3rd October, 2012 @ 03:26 am PDT

You can always tell those that never suffered from being fat they always think that overeating/under exercising is the cause and not a symptom.

Slowburn
9th October, 2012 @ 06:53 am PDT

I agree that those who have never been fat think it is simply over eating, and when they gain weight find to their surprise that losing it is quite difficult. In fact 90% of people who lose, gain the weight back in two years, and they are quite motivated to be thin; it took a lot of time and effort to lose. It is a symptom not a cause, I quite agree. Currently I have lost 50 pounds and as long as I eat nothing that is above very low glycemic than I am not in the diabetic range. But not being able to process sugar is a metabolic problem and it is also a metabolic problem that causes the weight gain. I personally have not found that reducing the blood sugar levels has made it more possible for me to handle sugars though it may keep me alive, and has made it possible for me to drop all medications.

Alice Gordon
24th October, 2012 @ 07:45 pm PDT

Is it based on herbal components of Ayurveda?

Serendib Tea
29th December, 2012 @ 08:39 am PST

I take issue with the headline. It is not a "treatment" until it is ready and available for human use. Until then, it is just an experiment.

Anne Ominous
1st January, 2013 @ 12:19 am PST

I don't think you can simply say that the cause for diabetes is over eating or being fat etc. My mother has type 2 diabetes, her father had the same. I've been playing sports and exercising for most of my life almost as a ritual...but I ended up with type 2 diabetes. My sister has never exercised, played any sport, eats the crappiest diet known to man kind and guess what.....no diabetes. Explain that to me please.

Jas Khera
6th January, 2013 @ 03:10 pm PST

Ulcers used to be thought to be caused by stress.

Guess what a change in stomach bacteria allowing more sinister bacteria to colonize the stomach and start eating the stomach lining was the main cause.

I am t2 and take metformin. It destroys gut flora, so I now take probiotics in evening and drink prebiotics with meals.

I found it's better to take tablets before meals not during and to drink lots of water before eating.

I think this approach to T2 is probably on the right path. But even tho a special pre-biotic drink might be a way to avoid regress T2.

They should still look at how the food chain promotes a gut flora that causes T2.

It's the use of fructose syrups to sweeten everything and the semi skimmed milk craze.

I have gone back to whole milk as semi skimmed milk raise blood sugar lot more than whole milk.

Health fads and health drinks do more damge than good.

Look at low fat and sweetners

Karsten Evans
30th March, 2013 @ 04:34 pm PDT

Yes, fat inside the cells where it was not meant to be, really affects sensitivity of them to insuline, thus blocking them from properly assimilating life-giving glucose even in presence of a lot of insuline. That has been shown and scientifically proven countlees times by many serious researchers since 1931, and even before, when they induced diabetic responses in young healthy persons just by adding fat, not carbs or sugar, in their daily intake of foods. But, sorry, I believe in prevention rather than in drugs with their inevitable side effects. There isn´t yet and there will never be a perfect drug. So, why not to eat the right way and the right things, namely a whole, low-fat plant-based diet in the first place?

Valter Martins da Silva
19th July, 2013 @ 10:42 am PDT
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