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Aussie scientists make diabetes breakthrough

By Chris V. Thangham     Oct 6, 2007 in Health
Australian scientists have identified an enzyme in diabetic patients that blocks the production of insulin. Now the researchers will target this enzyme to develop a simpler and more effective treatment for the disease.
In diabetics the enzyme blocks the production of insulin; as a result the current treatments try to control the insulin levels but don’t target the source of this problem. These treatments have to be followed for a long time but the main problem still remains. Till now no one knew why or what is blocking the production of insulin in the body. The insulin is a hormone that helps the pancreas convert blood sugar into energy, without additional insulin it becomes a problem.
The scientists at Sydney's Garvan Institute in their study were able to identify the main cause that was blocking the production of insulin in Type 2 diabetes. Trevor Biden, the team leader for this study said the next step is they will work with pharmaceutical companies to develop a drug that blocks this enzyme called PKCepsilon and thus allowing cells in the pancreas to function normally. He said to the newspaper:
What we've identified is a target that we can now latch onto to get therapy, but the journey from target to tablet of course is a long one".
He said it will take about 10 years to get an effective treatment in humans.
In the study, they used genetically modified mice to observe the link between an oversupply of fat and Type 2 diabetes. Those mice that had the enzyme developed diabetes quickly but those without the enzyme PKCepsilon did not develop diabetes despite gaining weight on a high fat diet it was fed.
In a statement, Garvan Institute researcher Dr Carsten Schmitz-Peiffer says the discovery is groundbreaking. He said in the article:
What this tells us is that we will be able to protect people at high risk of developing diabetes from losing the ability to produce insulin ...".
Dr. Carsten said it is like solving a jigsaw puzzle, the main part is identified and now it is easy to develop a treatment for Type 2 diabetes.
Around 200 million people worldwide (7 million people in Australia) suffer from Type 2 diabetes and often linked to obesity.
That is great news, so they can develop concentrated treatment and aim at the target instead of just controlling with insulin injections. Hopefully they will develop this treatment much sooner than 10 years, it will be a big relief to plenty of patients.
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