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Scientists develop ‘superdrug’ to cure diabetes

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Insulin for Type 2 Diabetes patients: Scientists have developed a drug combo that can induce production of insulin in man

Insulin for Type 2 Diabetes patients: Scientists have developed a drug combo that can induce production of insulin in man


Here is good news for millions of people worldwide contending with diabetes: Scientists have created a new drug cocktail that can induce insulin-producing cells to regenerate at a rate that is fast enough to work in human treatments.

This is a key step in the pursuit of a cure for diabetes that restores the body’s ability to make insulin.

The recent study by researchers at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai in New York City, NY, reveals how a novel combination of two classes of drug can make adult human beta cells replicate at a rate of 5–8 percent per day.

The team reports the findings in a paper that features in the journal Cell Metabolism.

“We are very excited about this new observation,” says lead author Dr. Andrew F. Stewart, who is director of the Mount Sinai Diabetes, Obesity, and Metabolism Institute, “because, for the first time, we are able to see rates of human cell beta cell replication that are sufficient to replenish beta cell mass in human beings.”

In earlier work, the team had investigated a small molecule that blocks an enzyme called dual-specificity tyrosine-phosphorylation-regulated kinase 1A (DYRK1A). This molecule led to a beta cell proliferation rate of 1.5 to 3 percent.

In the new study, the team demonstrated how adding a small molecule from a different class of drug raised the proliferation rate to an average of 5–8 percent. The second drug blocks members of the transforming growth factor beta superfamily (TGFβSF).

However, while the study has taken an important step by showing that the drug combination can regenerate beta cells fast enough for treatment, there is still some work to do.

As Dr. Stewart explains, “The next big hurdle is figuring out how to deliver them directly to the pancreas.”

Diabetes is a disease in which blood glucose rises to harmful levels. Persistent high blood glucose damages blood vessels, nerves, and other body systems. It can lead to vision loss, kidney disease, and heart problems.

Blood glucose levels rise because of difficulties with producing and using insulin, a hormone that helps the body’s cells absorb and use glucose to make energy.

According to the World Health Organisation, estimates suggest that there could be as many as 300 million people worldwide with diabetes by 2025.

There are two main types of diabetes: type 1 and type 2. Around 90–95 percent of adults with diabetes have type 2.

In type 1 diabetes, the lack of control of blood glucose occurs because the immune system destroys insulin-producing beta cells in the pancreas.

Type 2 diabetes usually starts with insulin resistance, a condition in which cells become less effective at using insulin. The pancreas initially compensates by making more insulin, but this is not a long-term solution, and blood glucose levels eventually climb.

Although the two types have differences, recent studies reveal that type 1 and type 2 diabetes share a major feature: a diminished supply of functioning insulin-producing beta cells.

Dr. Stewart says that none of the drugs currently available for the treatment of diabetes are sufficiently effective in getting human beta cells to regenerate.

Researchers are investigating other approaches, such as transplantation of beta cells or the pancreas and treatments that use stem cells to generate new beta cells. However, none of these are in widespread use, Dr. Stewart notes.

In the earlier work, he and his colleagues had shown that a DYRK1A inhibitor called harmine was able to stimulate a sustained proliferation of adult human beta cells in laboratory cultures.

In addition, mice with human beta cells in place of their own were able to keep blood sugar levels in the normal range following treatment with harmine.

This was a major step forward. However, the rate of new beta cell production was too low for the treatment to be effective in humans with diabetes.

The researchers got the idea of adding a TGFβSF inhibitor to harmine while they were investigating a type of benign tumour that forms in beta cells. This uncovered a novel set of targets for drugs that might enhance beta cell proliferation.

So, the aim of the recent study was to investigate whether combining the two classes of drug might work — and it did.

The investigators write that the study reveals how blocking “DYRK1A and TGFβSF signaling induces remarkable and previously unattainable rates of human beta cell proliferation […] and actually increases human and mouse beta cell numbers.”

The study also explores the mechanisms behind the “remarkable rate of proliferation.” The findings show that the drug combination works not only in beta cells that scientists recovered from “normal cadaveric human islets,” but also in beta cells that they grew from human stem cells and “those from people with type 2 diabetes.”

“Since these drugs have effects on other organs in the body, we now need to develop methods to deliver these drugs specifically to the beta cell in humans.”,

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FCT doctors hail Minister for paying arrears, seek reviews

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The Association of Resident Doctors (ARD), Federal Capital Territory (FCT) chapter, have commended the Minister of FCT, Mohammed Bello, for paying the backlog of doctors’ arrears.

Briefing newsmen in Abuja on Saturday, Dr Roland Aigbovo, President of the Chapter, said that the action of the minister was commendable as he had kept to his promise.

Aigboyo however used the opportunity to appeal to the Minister to also remember the stagnation of doctors who have long be due for promotion but were yet to be promoted.

He stressed that some doctors have been stagnated for over three years while others due for promotion have remained on the same level for two years.

He added that some of the promotions that had been done were done wrongly as some of the doctors were promoted to the same level that they were already on.

He explained that some doctors were wrongly placed and the wrong placement was corrected and they were skipped and placed on the next level, only to now also be promoted to the same level that they were skipped to.

“They were promoted to the same grade level they were skipped to.

“For example, a doctor on grade level 12 was skipped to grade level 13 by correction of the error and was then again promoted to grade level 13.

“The arrears paid was for skipping, which is the correction of the wrong placement,” he said.

On the issue of budgets for hospitals, the President of fthe association appealed to the minister to budget for each hospital according to their needs and to separate the budgets of each individual hospital.

“We also appeal to the minister to make provision of each hospital to have their budget and not a blanket budget because every hospital has different running cost,” he said.

He appealed for more training for residents, non-residents as well as for other departments in the hospitals.

“Presently, only four departments are involved in residency training which include family medicine, Obstetrics and Gynaecology, Surgery and ophthalmology.

“We want more depts to included like internal medicine, paediatric, radiology and psychiatry,” he said.

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Optometrists mourn former world council President Udom

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Eye screening

Eye screening

The Nigerian Optometric Association (NOA) on Thursday mourned the death of former President of the World Council of Optometry (WCO), Dr Uduak Udom.

Udom reportedly died on Monday in Uyo at the age of 63 after a protracted illness.

The association, in a statement, in Abuja said that Udom was a notable and outstanding member of the global Optometry family.

It noted that Udom made significant contributions to the development of optometry in Nigeria and worldwide.

“Significantly, until her demise she was the immediate past President of the World Council of Optometry (WCO), former President, Women Optometrists in Nigeria (WON), among others,” the body said.

Udom graduated from University of Benin in 1978.

NOA said it had opened a condolence register at its secretariat in Abuja.

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Scientist claims local remedy for diabetes

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Scientist claims local remedy for diabetes

Scientist claims local remedy for diabetes

Prof. Chukwunonso Ejike, a researcher at Alex Ekwueme Federal University, Ndufu-Alike, Ebonyi,
says he has developed a local remedy for diabetes mellitus.

He made this known in an interview with News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on Thursday on the sidelines of the ongoing
Technology and Innovation Expo 2019 holding in Enugu.

Diabetes mellitus is a disease in which the body’s ability to produce or respond to the hormone insulin is impaired,
resulting in abnormal metabolism of carbohydrates and elevated level of glucose (sugar) in the blood.

Organised yearly by Federal Ministry of Science and Technology to encourage interaction among researchers, inventors, innovators
and investors, the Science and Technology Expo is to largely commercialise research results from the country’s tertiary institutions.

The theme for the 2019 expo is “Science, Technology and Innovation for Economic Recovery and Sustainable Growth.”

Ejike said that the remedy product known as the VOG Tea was one of six products exhibited by the university at the Expo,
invented in 2018 after four years of intensive research.

The don, who is the Dean, Basic Medical Sciences in the institution, said that the tea was produced from three
culinary vegetables, noting that the process of patenting the product had already begun and would soon be in the market.

He added that “I thank the university authority for supporting every effort so far made to develop and produce the tea.

“I want to appeal to investors to partner with us to get it to the market place at the minimum best price.”

The researcher said that Nigerian scholars had the capacity to compete with their peers in developed economies,
adding that to achieve this, however, they needed to be funded.

He added that he was motivated to go into the research due to increasing incidences of diabetes mellitus in the country,
especially in urban areas.

He said “our interest in developing this tea was to find out how to help our people manage diabetes mellitus.

“We thought of local remedies that could be cheap and identified these vegetables. We did clinical tests and collected
data on the vegetables and confirmed that making tea from the vegetables could be of great benefit to sufferers of diabetes mellitus.

“Constant consumption of the tea will ensure that the glucose concentration will not overshoot the normal level.”

The dean said that the product would also help people at risk of getting diabetes.

He said that the usage of the VOG Tea by those at risk would ensure that they never developped it.

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