Monday, November 17, 2008

Research News Flash: Gleevec and Sutent

Thanks to Peter Nerothin and Kerri Morrone Sparling for the tip-off. An article published in the December 2, 2008 PNAS journal (with early release today) showed that 2 leukemia drugs--imatinib (Gleevec) and sunitinib (Sutent)--had potent effects in preventing and reversing new-onset diabetes in NOD mice. Of course it hasn't been shown to work in people yet, but this does seem like a very exciting development, in particular because Gleevec and Sutent are already FDA-approved drugs. Another exciting finding was that one course of treatment (albeit a 10-week course) had long-lasting effects, suggesting that the drugs had a modulatory effect on the immune system--not just a more temporary, suppressive one.

I went to an informative talk today on the cell/molecular biology of diabetes and routes to a cure, given by Jeff Bluestone and Steve Gitelman of UCSF. I missed the first part of it so perhaps they discussed it then, but it seems like perhaps they didn't want to spill the beans. Dr. Bluestone was quoted in related news stories and is one of the main authors.

I am optimistic about the state of research, but will make sure to keep stocked up on insulin and test strips for the foreseeable future.

Friday, November 14, 2008

World Diabetes Day Today!

Today is the annual commemoration of World Diabetes Day. One of the goals of this event is to raise awareness about diabetes in the developing world. The International Diabetes Federation has a program, "Life for a Child," to help children in developing countries gain access to insulin, blood glucose testing and diabetes medical care. Another goal of World Diabetes Day is to educate people on the warning signs of diabetes; catching diabetes early can help to delay and possibly significantly reduce complications. I have heard of many instances where type 1 diabetes was missed in infants, almost until it was too late. Read about the warning signs of diabetes and more about the IDF mission here. I should note that type 2 diabetes usually has different warning signs than type 1. Know them, especially if you are at higher risk.

As part of WDD, many monuments and buildings around the world are being lit up in blue. The Civic Center will be lit up in San Francisco today around 5:00 PM.