Weekly Potpourri

Blame The Media

Data from the Prospective Urban Rural Epidemiological Study (PURE, for short) suggests that owning a television, a computer or a car are possible causes of an increase of obesity and type 2 diabetes in low-income countries.

The study tracked more than 150,000 people in 17 countries representing a range of economic conditions. Owning a TV was linked with a 39 percent greater risk of obesity and a 33 percent greater risk of type 2 diabetes as a result of inactivity.

The study concludes there is no statistical link between owning a car or a TV and the risk of diabetes but when residents of low-income countries were measured singularly, owning one of the devices was a risk factor for becoming obese or developing diabetes.

The full report is found at www.phri.ca/body.cfm?id+179.


Diabetes and Pregnancy

A California study of pregnancies shows that women who become pregnant who are already diabetic with pre-gestational diabetes mellitus (PGDM) face more complications than women who become diabetic upon pregnancy (gestational diabetes mellitus or GDM).

The study, covering the years 2001-2007, revealed an increase in cesarean births, hypertension, and thyroid disease in women with PGDM compared to those with GDM. But, the authors note, there was also an increase during this time in the number of California women with either condition, suggesting that it is likely there’s been an increase in both nationwide.

Among ethnic groups, East Asian women had a higher incidence of GDM, but also had the lowest occurrence of PGDM, as did Caucasian women. Diabetic women account for 6-7 percent of all US pregnancies, the great majority of which (85 percent) are GDM.

Bio-artificial Pancreas Progress

Every researcher looking for a cure for diabetes cure faces the same issue: A diabetic’s body uses its natural immune mechanisms to attack insulin-producing cells–hence the need for some type 2s to take pills and for all type 1s and some type 2s to inject insulin for proper glucose control.

Enter the bio-artificial pancreas: It senses glucose levels, secretes insulin when needed and shields itself from the body’s attempt to destroy the insulin-producing cells. Recently, research teams in Israel, Germany, and the United States reported seeing “promising results” after a silver dollar-size “pancreas” was implanted in a 63-year old type 1 for a 10-month period.

During that time, the patient required insulin only during some glucose peak times, and daily injections of oxygen to help the insulin-producing cells stay alive.

How was this different from earlier attempts? No immunosuppression drugs were needed to fend off the body trying to destroy cells, because they were contained inside the artificial pancreas by a gelatinous material. When the patient was given a high-glucose test, the pancreas released insulin as needed in a majority of tests to maintain a satisfactory glucose level.

“We haven’t cured diabetes,” study co-author Dr. Norman Block at the University of Miami tells Diabetes Health, “but we’ve shown we can replace cells that produce insulin without the need for immunosuppression drugs.”

FDA approval is pending not only on the technology used in the device, but also for the peptide drug that successfully, assisted the beta cells to grow and produce insulin. More tests using more people are planned.

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