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New Treatment Eases Type 2 Diabetes

Experimental Drug Aids in Controlling Blood Sugar Levels

WebMD Health News

Aug. 6, 2003 -- A new type of treatment for type 2 diabetes may help people with the disease control their blood sugar levels better than traditional therapies.

New research shows an experimental drug, called exenatide, can improve blood sugar levels in people who haven't reached optimal levels through diet and other diabetes treatments.

Type 2 diabetes occurs when the pancreas cannot produce enough insulin to meet the body's needs. It can also happen when the body's tissues become resistant to insulin, which causes blood sugar levels to rise above safe levels.

Exenatide is a new kind of type 2 diabetes treatment that has been shown to increase the number of insulin-producing cells in the pancreas in animal studies. It has also been shown to increase the secretion of insulin resulting from elevated sugars. By boosting the number and function of these cells, researchers say the synthetic biological drug helps bring blood sugar levels under control without using insulin injections.

In the study, published in the August issue of Diabetes Care, researchers compared the effects of exenatide in 109 people with type 2 diabetes who were already using diet modifications and/or diabetes drugs, such as Glucophage or sulfonylureas (Glucotrol, Diabinese, and others) to control their blood sugar levels. Patients were randomly assigned into groups that received either a placebo or one of three dosage levels of exenatide given by injection.

After 28 days of treatment, researchers found that adding exenatide to the volunteers' current therapy caused an improvement in blood sugar control over and above levels achieved with their current therapy.

The most common side effect associated with exenatide treatment was nausea, especially at the start of treatment.

Researchers say treating type 2 diabetes with exenatide also had the added benefit of not affecting body weight or cholesterol.

Amylin Pharmaceuticals, the maker of exenatide, funded the study.

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