A Simple Pill to Protect Insulin Production In Diabetes Patients

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In Melbourne, a team at St Vincent’s Institute of Medical Research has made a significant discovery.

They found that a drug usually given for rheumatoid arthritis can also slow down type 1 diabetes. This finding is a big deal for diabetes care.

The research was led by Professor Thomas Kay and the results were shared in the New England Journal of Medicine.

The drug, named baricitinib, was tested on people who had recently been diagnosed with type 1 diabetes. The study showed that this drug can protect the body’s ability to make insulin.

Professor Kay explained that when someone is first diagnosed with type 1 diabetes, they still have many insulin-making cells. The goal was to see if this drug could protect these cells from being destroyed by the body’s immune system.

The results were positive – baricitinib was safe and it worked to slow down the disease in people who had just found out they had diabetes.

This discovery is exciting because it’s the first treatment of its kind for type 1 diabetes that comes in a pill form. Before this, people with the condition had to rely on insulin injections or pumps.

The trial showed that those who started the drug soon after their diagnosis and continued taking it could maintain their insulin production. This meant they needed less insulin from injections.

Managing type 1 diabetes is hard. It’s an autoimmune disease that lasts a lifetime. People with it need to check their blood sugar levels and take insulin all the time to stay healthy. Before insulin was discovered over 100 years ago, type 1 diabetes was often fatal.

Even though insulin saves lives, getting the dose just right is tricky and the disease can lead to serious problems like heart attacks, poor eyesight, kidney disease, and nerve damage.

Professor Helen Thomas, who was also involved in the trial, is hopeful about this new treatment. She thinks it could really change how type 1 diabetes is managed. It could be a big improvement in controlling the disease.

The study tested baricitinib on 91 people aged between 10 and 30, who had recently been diagnosed with type 1 diabetes. They were either given baricitinib or a placebo, which is a pill that has no medicine in it. The trial lasted a year.

The researchers checked how much insulin the participants made themselves, their blood sugar levels, and their HbA1C levels. HbA1C is a way to measure average blood sugar over two to three months.

Baricitinib works by blocking an enzyme that helps control the immune system and inflammation. It’s already used for rheumatoid arthritis, another autoimmune disease.

The drug seems to help by calming down the immune system’s attack on insulin-making cells in people who have just been diagnosed with type 1 diabetes. This delays the disease getting worse, helps control blood sugar, and reduces the risk of serious health problems in the long run.

If you care about diabetes, please read studies that not all whole grain foods could benefit people with type 2 diabetes, and green tea could help reduce death risk in type 2 diabetes.

For more information about diabetes, please see recent studies about unhealthy plant-based diets linked to metabolic syndrome, and results showing Mediterranean diet could help reduce the diabetes risk by one third.

The research findings can be found in New England Journal of Medicine.

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