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Pilot study shows popular type 2 diabetes drug lowers blood sugar levels in people with type 1 diabetes

January 27, 2011

Researchers recently reported that a drug commonly used to reduce blood sugar in people with type 2 diabetes may also have similar effects for people with type 1, a finding that could add to the pool of possible new treatments to help people with type 1 diabetes better manage the disease.

A pilot study conducted by Satish Garg, M.D., of the University of Colorado, found that in a group of 20 people with type 1 diabetes who had difficulty achieving near-normal blood glucose levels with insulin treatment alone, sitagliptin, marketed as Januvia, lowered blood sugar and HbA1C, and reduced the amount of insulin needed by those in the study group.  The once-a-day pill was added to the patients’ usual insulin therapy over a four-week period.  The pilot study is the first to test a drug called a DPP-4 inhibitor for the treatment of type 1 diabetes.

DPP-4 inhibitors, such as sitagliptin, are a class of diabetes drugs that are widely available for people with type 2 diabetes. Sitagliptin works by preventing an enzyme, known as DPP-4 from destroying a hormone that is naturally released by the gut to lower blood sugar and stimulate insulin production after food is consumed.

Dr. Garg plans to do a follow-up study with a multicenter, four-month trial involving 120 people with type 1 diabetes to determine the effectiveness of sitagliptin in improving overall glucose control, as well as its possible effect on reducing post-meal glucose levels. Individuals with type 1 diabetes have unexplained rises in post-meal glucose levels, which lead to increased insulin dose requirements, a routine challenge in the management of this disease. If sitagliptin were to play a role in helping to regulate glucose levels in combination with regular insulin usage, it could help decrease the net amount of insulin required per day, a win-win for those living with type 1 diabetes.

While exciting to see that there may be a potential benefit of type 2 diabetes drugs like sitagliptin for people with type 1 diabetes, it is important to note the risks or potential safety concerns for the use of this drug in type 1 diabetes have not been fully evaluated.  Further, clinical trials such as these and additional ones will need to be conducted to establish its long term applicability and value in the treatment of type 1 diabetes.

Article by Joana Casas from the JDRF National Office through the JDRF News Blog on Juvenation

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To learn more about the JDRF Dallas chapter, visit our JDRF Dallas website!

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