Jul 03, 2015

By Jane Brown

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For nearly a century, insulin has been a life-saving treatment for diabetes.  Now, scientists are trying to see if pills containing the same medicine patients inject every day could also prevent the disease.

Some 400 children and adults are participating in U.S. government-funded international research investigating whether experimental insulin capsules can prevent or at least delay Type 1 diabetes.  Hospitals in the United States and eight other countries are involved and recruitment is ongoing.  To enroll, participants must have taken a blood test showing their chances for developing the disease are high.

A small, preliminary study by different researchers, published recently in the Journal of the American Medical Association, suggests the approach might work.  Children who took insulin pills showed immune system changes that the researchers said might help prevent diabetes.  The study was too small and didn’t last long enough to know for sure.

The ongoing larger study is more rigorous, and randomly assigns participants to get experimental insulin capsules or dummy pills, and should provide a clearer answer.

Insulin pills are also being studied as a diabetes treatment, but the challenge has been finding a way to get the drug to reach the bloodstream without being degraded as it is digested.

(The Associated Press)


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