Health Watch - Diabetes: Beta Cells

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This week on Health Watch, we’ve been talking about research into diabetes, including some promising avenues for potential treatments. A drug already being used to treat autoimmune disorders could help slow the progression of type 1 diabetes.

In type 1 diabetes, the body’s own immune system attacks and destroys the beta cells in the pancreas that produce insulin. Researchers at UT Southwestern Medical Center and other medical centers have found that an autoimmune drug slowed the destruction of beta cells in people recently diagnosed with diabetes for at least a year.

Dr. Philip Raskin, a UT Southwestern diabetes expert, says this isn’t a cure for diabetes. By the time a person is diagnosed, too much damage has already been done to beta cells. But it is a promising finding because it could help improve beta cell function in the early stages of diabetes. The next step for researchers it to determine exactly how the drug affects diabetes.


May 2010

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