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Study tests oral insulin to prevent type 1 diabetes

Researchers have begun a clinical study of oral insulin to prevent or delay type 1 diabetes in at-risk people, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) announced today. Type 1 Diabetes TrialNet, an NIH-funded network of researchers dedicated to the understanding, prevention, and early treatment of type 1 diabetes, is conducting the study in more than 100 medical centers across the United States, Canada, Europe, and Australia.

Our goal is to prevent type 1 diabetes or to delay it as long as possible. If diabetes can be delayed, even for several years, those at risk will be spared the difficult challenges of controlling glucose and the development of complications for that much longer, said TrialNet study chair Jay Skyler, M.D., of the University of Miami.

In the study, researchers are testing whether an insulin capsule taken by mouth once a day can prevent or delay diabetes in a specific group of people at risk for type 1 diabetes. An earlier trial suggested that oral insulin might delay type 1 diabetes for about four years in some people with autoantibodies to insulin in their blood. Animal studies have also suggested that insulin taken orally may prevent type 1 diabetes. Some scientists think that introducing insulin via the digestive tract induces tolerance, or a quieting of the immune system. Insulin taken orally has no side effects because the digestive system breaks it down quickly. To lower blood glucose, insulin must be injected or administered by an insulin pump.

In type 1 diabetes, a persons own immune cells destroy the beta cells of the pancreas. Beta cells sense blood glucose and produce the hormone insulin, which regulates glucose and converts it to energy. The immune attack on beta cells begins well before a person develops diabetes and continues long after the disease is diagnosed. In the early stages of autoimmunity, up to 10 years before diabetes is diagnosed, autoantibodies may appear in the blood. These
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Contact: Joan Chamberlain
niddkmedia@mail.nih.gov
301-496-3583
NIH/National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases
31-Jan-2007


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