Diabetes is a condition in which the body doesn't produce or effectively use insulin, a hormone needed to convert food into energy. There are two main types of diabetes. In type 1, the body doesn't produce insulin. Patients need daily injections of insulin to stay alive. Patients with type 2 diabetes either don't make enough insulin or are unable to properly use insulin. It's the most common form of the disease, accounting for 90 to 95 percent of all cases of diabetes.
According to the American Diabetes Association, about 15.7 million Americans have diabetes and about 798,000 will be diagnosed with the condition this year. Without insulin, or the ability to use insulin, high levels of glucose (a form of sugar used for energy) circulate in the blood.
Over time, patients can develop one or more serious complications, such as blindness, kidney disease, heart disease, stroke, nerve disease, and an increased risk for amputations.
A Treatment Trial for Diabetes
Research shows risk for diabetes complications can often be reduced through strict control over blood sugar levels, proper diet, and exercise. There is no cure for the condition. However, researchers are testing an injectable product which may give patients better control over their disease.
INGAP (islet neogenesis gene associated protein) is a naturally occurring protein that stimulates the growth of cells that produce insulin. Scientists have isolated the specific active portion of the protein, called the INGAP peptide, and are able to produce it in a laboratory. Diabetic animals given the INGAP Peptide had increased levels of insulin and lower levels of glucose for several days. Research at the Eastern Virginia Medical School suggests the treatment may lead to a cure of the disease in animals.
Late last year, the FDA approved the start of human trials with the INGAP Peptide. Doctors will study the safety and effectiveness of single and multiple doses in patients with type 1 and type 2 diabetes.
Ideally, the treatment will stimulate the regrowth of enough insulin-producing cells so patients will only need injections about once every month or two. Eventually, the research may someday lead to a cure for diabetes for humans. At the least, scientists hope it will provide a more natural and stable control over glucose levels, helping diabetics to better manage their disease, and perhaps, reducing their risk for developing complications. The study in humans is taking place at three sites across the country.
The INGAP Peptide study is taking place at three sites across the country:
- The Texas Diabetes Institute of the University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio in San Antonio, TX
- The University of North Carolina Diabetes Care Center in Chapel Hill, NC
- The MedStar Research Institute in Washington, DC.
For general information on diabetes: