September 2001

From University of Newcastle upon Tyne

Groundbreaking study tackles costly disease - Type 2 diabetes -affecting millions of people worldwide

Scientists at Newcastle University, England, have had a major breakthrough in tackling Type 2 diabetes, which has become a huge worldwide concern and is costing billions of pounds to treat each year.

A groundbreaking study, carried out in collaboration with Liverpool University, has found Type 2 diabetes treatment, Avandia (rosiglitazone) could prevent the development of the disease in patients with impaired glucose tolerance (IGT). Patients with IGT are at high risk of developing Type 2 diabetes, which can cause heart disease, kidney failure and blindness.

Study investigator Dr Mark Walker, a consultant physician at Newcastle University, said the results, to be presented for the first time on, Tuesday September 11 2001, at the annual conference of the European Association for the Study of Diabetes in Glasgow, were "very encouraging and an exciting breakthrough."

Numbers of people in Britain with Type 2 diabetes are expected to reach 4m in the next 10 years - double the current number - and costs of healthcare are spiralling as a result. Diabetes UK (formerly the British Diabetic Association) says this is due to a rise in obesity, which is linked to the disease, and an ageing population - people aged 40-70 are more likely to develop Type 2.

World politicians have highlighted the disease as a concern, and both the British Prime Minister Tony Blair, and the former US president Bill Clinton, have called on the medical profession for urgent solutions.

The drug, which is taken in tablet form, may also mean patients are less likely to develop the high blood pressure usually associated with Type 2 diabetes, which can eventually lead to heart disease.

Dr Walker said:

"Studies have shown that patients with IGT who increase their exercise levels and improve their diet are less likely to develop Type 2 diabetes, but for some patients, especially those who are old or already very overweight, this is not a practical option."

"This drug therefore presents a therapeutic alternative for those patients that cannot make the necessary lifestyle changes."

Diabetes is a condition in which the body cannot control the level of sugar, or glucose in the bloodstream. It is the fourth leading cause of death in developed countries.

Nine in ten patients have Type-2 diabetes, which usually develops later in life, unlike type-1, or juvenile diabetes, which can leave sufferers needing insulin injections from childhood, teens or twenties.

On average, a Type-2 diabetic remains undiagnosed for seven years, by which time the damage to tissues is already underway.

The results from the IGT study have provided the proof of concept for a much larger prospective study which will establish the effectiveness of Avandia in the prevention of Type 2 diabetes.

* For further details, or to arrange interviews with Dr Walker, contact Claire Jordan at Newcastle University press office, 0191-222 6067/7850.

Notes to editors

1. Avandia" is a trade-mark of GlaxoSmithKline
2. The study was supported by an educational grant from GlaxoSmithKline

This article comes from Science Blog. Copyright 2004

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