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Thread: Possible good news for NZ diabetics

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    Default Possible good news for NZ diabetics

    Key diabetes discovery excites NZ team
    Wednesday October 4, 2006
    By Derek Cheng

    Auckland researchers have unlocked the secrets to a key enzyme that could lead to relief for hundreds of thousands of diabetes sufferers.

    A research team at Auckland University's Maurice Wilkins Centre for Molecular Biodiscovery has mapped the exact atomic structure of myo-inositol oxygenase (MIOX), which affects how the body breaks down the sugar compound inositol. Studies have shown high levels of MIOX to be a common trait among diabetics, leading to low levels of inositol and an increase of glucose in the blood.

    "Now we know the exact structure of this protein MIOX, and we can see how you would design a drug to block it, like fitting a key to a lock," said Professor Ted Baker, director at the centre. We know its shape, where its active part is. We basically have a template for the design of a drug."

    The team is now working with Industrial Research in Lower Hutt to develop such a drug. If successful, they believe the drug will act to restore glucose levels to normal and give relief to the 200,000 New Zealanders who suffer from diabetes symptoms.

    "By blocking MIOX, inositol levels can return to normal and we can overcome some of the consequences of diabetes, maybe all of them - but we don't know that," Professor Baker said. He was optimistic a new drug treatment would become a reality, but "you never really know in this type of area. "Sometimes things can go very quickly and sometimes drugs simply don't make it at all. We're looking at two to three years to develop a compound that can then be tested properly."

    The findings, published yesterday in the US journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, show the first successful attempt to combat diabetes by targeting MIOX. "What we're excited about, if this does work, is that it would be a completely new type of approach to diabetes," Professor Baker said.

    Diabetes or diabetes-related illnesses cause an estimated four million deaths worldwide each year, including about 4000 in New Zealand. Diabetes NZ president Murray Dear said about 7500 new cases were diagnosed every year.

    "One of the problems with diabetes is that it is a progressive disease and it's complex to treat. We welcome and support any research that is beneficial to diabetes sufferers."

    SECRET ENZYME

    * Diabetes affects 200,000 New Zealanders and is linked to 4000 deaths a year.

    * Studies have shown diabetics have low levels of the sugar compound inositol because of high levels of myo-inositol oxygenase (MIOX) - the only enzyme known to break down inositol.

    * Researchers have mapped the atomic structure of MIOX to help develop a drug to block the protein, which would regulate inositol levels and decrease the levels of glucose in the blood.
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    A bit more good news.

    'Painless' breakthrough for diabetics
    By LOIS WATSON - Sunday Star Times | Sunday, 26 October 2008

    A breakthrough non-invasive and painless system for assessing people's average blood-sugar levels is about to undergo clinical trials in Christchurch.

    It could revolutionise the way diabetics' long-term glucose levels are monitored and provide an easier way to identify people with the disease, which affects around 174,000 New Zealanders and their families.

    Average monthly blood-glucose levels are determined through blood tests. But scientists at Canterbury University believe they can produce a machine which can detect glucose levels accurately by the fluorscence of skin under ultra-violet light.

    They are working with medical researchers at Christchurch Hospital, to clinically test the machine which could provide diabetes sufferers with an accurate snapshot of their blood-sugar levels so they can adjust their food, exercise and medication without the need for painful blood tests.

    Dr Brett Shand, of the Lipid and Diabetes Research Group at Christchurch Hospital, said trials could take around two years but the technology would transform the way long-term glucose levels were monitored.

    For patients, all the test would involve was having a fluorescent light shone on their skin. "The measurement takes two to three minutes. It's non- invasive, painless and the UV-exposure is harmless," Shand said. It would also be cheaper than laboratory blood tests.

    The test could also be used for screening. "It could help us identify patients who could have diabetes and require blood tests to confirm the diagnosis. Early detection is so important because if we get on top of the disease at an early stage it reduces the risk of complications."

    Shand said it was proposed to initially use the new testing regime on patients with type-2 diabetes but it could also be used on young children with type-1 diabetes.

    Type-2 diabetes is by far the most common form in New Zealand, with an estimated 140,000 sufferers. And the numbers are increasing rapidly. In some groups, up to 12% are type-2 diabetic once aged over 40.

    New Zealand's leading diabetes expert Emeritus Professor Don Beaven, of the Christchurch School of Medicine, is excited by the potential breakthrough, which he believes could make it much easier for people to control their diabetes and reduce the risk of complications such as eye damage and kidney disease.

    He could foresee a time when the machines were available in every doctor's surgery.

    "New Zealand has the second highest rate of diabetes in the world. This disease is a big drain on our health resources and if we can help people manage it and educate them about blood sugar levels it could make a huge difference," Beaven said.

    In another positive development for diabetics, a new drug that can extend the life of type-2 diabetes sufferers and reduce complications comes before a Pharmac advisory committee next month.

    The drug, Januvia, lowers the blood-sugar level of a patient with early-stage type-2 diabetes, decreasing the chances of amputations, blindness and heart and liver disease.

    From here.
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  3. #3
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    Looks promising, but you would wonder what the long term affects of the blocking drug might be .......
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