Early intervention stops damage to insulin-producing cells

SAN FRANCISCO, June 16, 2002- Giving an anti-diabetes drug early to women at high risk for type 2 diabetes preserves the health of their insulin-producing cells better than postponing treatment until they actually develop the disease, according to a study from the Keck School of Medicine of USC.

Researchers presented the study at the American Diabetes Association's 62nd Scientific Sessions.

"The study has important implications for treatment strategies to prevent type 2 diabetes. It also helps define the primary cause of the disease: the failure of insulin-secreting cells caused by high insulin demands when the body?s tissues become resistant to its own insulin," says Thomas A. Buchanan, M.D., professor of medicine, obstetrics and gynecology and physiology and biophysics at the Keck School and the study?s lead author.

The Troglitazone in Prevention of Diabetes (TRIPOD) study previously found that using a drug to lessen insulin resistance could reduce the demands on beta cells- which secrete insulin in response to glucose- and prevent or slow type 2 diabetes onset in Latinas with recent gestational diabetes.

Although gestational diabetes usually disappears after childbirth, patients commonly remain resistant to their own insulin and 30 to 50 percent of them develop type 2 diabetes within a few years after pregnancy, Buchanan says. These women are considered at high risk for developing diabetes.

Buchanan and colleagues gave 121 young Latinas with recent gestational diabetes a daily dose of either troglitazone or a placebo. At that time, physicians nationwide commonly prescribed troglitazone to treat type 2 diabetes, because it helps the body's cells more effectively use insulin to absorb glucose. (The Food and Drug Administration recalled troglitazone in 2000, and USC researchers switched to prescribing pioglitazone, a similar-acting, FDA-approved drug in the ongoing study).

Any women in the placebo group who developed

Contact: Jon Weiner
University of Southern California

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