New Hope for Insulin Independence Proposed at International Diabetes Summit

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"Inducing remission of type 1 diabetes should be our goal. The use of a combination therapy which we will test in a new clinical trial in recent onset patients may offer new hopes." - Paolo Pozzilli, MD, Head of Endocrinology at Università Campus Bio-Medico di Roma.

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"Inducing remission of type 1 diabetes should be our goal. The use of a combination therapy which we will test in a new clinical trial in recent onset patients may offer new hopes." Paolo Pozzilli, MD

The Inaugural International Summit on Insulin Independence highlighted the research of a group of leading type 1 experts in Diabetes Autoimmunity and Beta Cell Regeneration. They introduced a ground-breaking approach to type 1 diabetes treatment, which holds the potential for restoration of insulin independence, using FDA-approved drugs.

A key issue in the discussion was why conventional therapeutic approaches to diabetes reverses diabetes in mice but not man, and how the differences between mice and men can lead to more successful approaches for patients with type 1 diabetes. It appears that in mice type 1 diabetes may simply be an autoimmune disease, but in man, it is a more complex disease and there is a need to regenerate new beta cells. Although type 1 diabetes was the focus of the discussion, the data presented on new therapies for regeneration of pancreatic islets which contain new pools of insulin-producing cells, might also be relevant to the more common type 2 diabetes.

“In man, we hypothesize that a regeneration therapy is also required with an immune agent to protect the new insulin producing cells,” stated program chair Claresa Levetan, MD. Levetan also noted that there are now several available therapies even some that are already on the market that have the potential to generate new insulin-producing cells.

The featured speakers were all clinician scientists who work daily with patients who have type 1 diabetes and all have a direct personal connection to the disease. Topics covered included:

•Claresa Levetan, MD, FACE – Differences between islets in mice and man.
•Desmond Schatz, MD, Director of the Diabetes Center of Excellence and Director of the University of Florida Clinical Research Center – The need to change the paradigm of diabetes simply being an autoimmune disease.
•Paolo Pozzilli, MD, Head of Endocrinology at Università Campus Bio-Medico di Roma – Outcomes with immune tolerance agents over the past 4 decades and why CyA is a unique initial therapy for insulin remission.
•Lois Jovanovic, MD, FACP, FACN, FACE, MACE, Chief Scientific Officer of the Sansum Diabetes Center – Ability for women with decades of type 1 diabetes to become insulin independent within weeks of pregnancy.
•Aaron Vinik. MD, PhD, FCP, MACP, FACE, Director of Research and the Neuroendocrine Unit at Eastern Virginia Medical School —Current ability to increase C-peptide by 30% among patients with 20 years of type 1 diabetes and how this is done by duct to islet transformation.
•Donald Bergman, MD, FACE, MACE, past president of the American College of Endocrinology - Ability to use proton pump inhibitors to increase gastrin, which increases beta cell regeneration.

Highlights of Discussions -

  • Drs. Paolo Pozzilli, Desmond Schatz, and Lois Jovanovic, all of whom are JDRF-awarded scientists, as well as Drs. Donald Bergman and Dr. Aaron Vinik, concluded that type 1 diabetes therapy must include an immune blocking agent and an agent for regeneration of new insulin producing cells.
  • Dr. Jovanovic demonstrated how within weeks of pregnancy among 25% of type 1 diabetes patients, there is significant generation of new insulin by the mother and some patients have even been able to come off of insulin, which demonstrates the capacity of the pancreas for regeneration.
  • Drs. Vinik and Levetan both described new discoveries of gene therapy, which has already been used in type 1 diabetes that resulted in a 30% rise in their own new insulin production within 8 weeks of treatment.
  • Dr. Donald Bergman described commonly used FDA-approved agents with potential to transform ducts to new insulin-producing islets and how regeneration has occurred in a period of weeks among diabetes patients using proton pump inhibitors, many of which are over the counter agents. Proton pump inhibitors increase the level of the hormone gastrin, which can generate new insulin producing cells.

The summit concluded on an upbeat note expressing hope about the future of type 1 diabetes. Dr. Paolo Pozzilli, stated, "Inducing remission of type 1 diabetes should be our goal. The use of a combination therapy which we will test in a new clinical trial in recent onset patients may offer new hopes," said Paolo Pozzilli, MD.

For more information about Insulin Independence, to learn more about the Summit speakers, and to review presentation slides, please visit http://www.InsulinIndependence.com. Please address any questions and requests for interviews to InsulinIndependence (at) gmail (dot) com .

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