Two new treatments tackle diabetes - ABC 12 – WJRT – Flint, MI

Two new treatments tackle diabetes

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(07/18/12) - There may be a way to stop a potential killer before it strikes.

Diabetes can lead to kidney failure, blindness, amputation, heart attack and stroke. Two new treatments are aimed not only at preventing Type-I diabetes, but at possibly curing it.

Daily blood sugar checks can be a pain, but they're a necessity for millions. It's something Kerby Bennet is trying to avoid.

A few years ago, Kerby's twin sister was diagnosed with type-one diabetes. "It was a shock to us, especially because she was 17 when she was diagnosed."

Because her identical twin has it, Kerby has a 65 percent chance of developing the disease too. Now, she's the first person to enroll in a clinical trial at Vanderbilt University, testing the drug Teplizumab.

"It's been well studied in individuals who have been newly diagnosed with diabetes. What if we take someone who is at high risk to develop diabetes, can we actually prevent it?" says Dr. William Russell of Vanderbilt University.

Teplizumab battles an immune system protein called CD3. The goal is to find out if it can also stop the destruction of the insulin-producing cells in the pancreas before diabetes occurs.

Meanwhile, researchers at the University of Colorado are curing it in animals. By isolating the specific T-cells that attack the pancreas, they developed a drug that can stop diabetes from developing and even reverse it in mice that already have it.

Kerby hopes the drugs will keep her from developing diabetes, and someday cure her twin sister. "I think research like this makes it possible."

Researchers will follow Kerby for up to four years. The ultimate goal for this trial is to enroll 150 people in the United States and at a few foreign sites.

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