Health Tips

By LIDIA WASOWICZ, UPI Senior Science Writer  |  May 6, 2002 at 4:45 AM
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Tests indicate that a new drug strategy shows promise against Type 2 diabetes. The findings, published in the journal Diabetes Care, show that interfering with the enzyme dipeptidyl peptidase IV can improve glucose tolerance and insulin response to oral glucose in patients with the sugar disorder. "These encouraging results strongly support further pharmacological development of DPP IV inhibition in the treatment of Type 2 diabetes. We are looking at potential development candidates in this field, the most advanced being LAF 237A, which is currently in Phase II of clinical development," said James Shannon, head of clinical development at Novartis Pharma AG, which sponsored the study that used Novartis's drug NVP DPP728. More than 150 million people have diabetes worldwide, with 90 percent of them having Type 2, or non-insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus.


Studies have shown that soy increases bone density in peri- and postmenopausal women. Now, new research indicates soy can benefit nursing moms as well. Catherine Peterson of the University of Missouri, Columbia, found that soy has advantages for women's bone health during breastfeeding. That's a time when women tend to experience a 3 to 7 percent loss in bone density. Even though a woman's bones return to normal when she begins to wean, Peterson found that soy can help women lessen the bone loss during lactation and, thus, may help prevent osteoporosis in the long run. Peterson gave lactating rats soy isoflavones -- plant estrogens contained in soy -- in amounts found in soy protein. "I did this research because, in theory, the unique hormonal changes that occur during lactation might provide a window of opportunity for building more bone through the use of plant-derived estrogens," said Peterson, who also serves as director of the dietetics program. "Our preliminary results provide some evidence that indeed bones of lactating animals respond positively to soy phytoestrogens. Further work is needed to confirm these results."


A drug aproved for rheumatoid arthritis may also bring relief from the pain and stiffness of an inflammatory spinal conditon called ankylosing spondylitis, which affects 250,000 people. The University of California, San Francisco, study, published in The New England Journalof Medicine, showed 80 percent of patients taking the drug etanercept found relief. The immune-blocking drug worked faster than current therapies such as aspirin-like medicatios, other immunosuppressives and physical therapy. The drug may not only reduce the painful symptoms of spinal inflammation but also slow the disease, the researchers said. The symptoms appear most often in men between the ages of 16 and 35. There is no cure for the chronic disease that brings stiff joints, pain and extra bone growth which can result in partial or complete fusion of the spine, said Dr. John Davis, UCSF asssistant professor of medicine and senior study author.


Engineers at Ohio State University have developed a computer model to help tiny medical implants dispense drugs on demand electrically. The research may lead to more effective and convenient forms of chemotherapy, the scientists said. Though nanotechnology shows promise for delivering drugs inside the body, researchers have had difficulty pumping fluid through the tiny passages that would have to be constructed inside such devices, said Terry Conlisk, professor of mechanical engineering. In the journal Analytical Chemistry, Conlisk said a tiny amount of electrical current may solve the problem. Ideally, this research will lead to a device that can target disease sites, such as tumors, and dispense medication, scientists said.

(EDITORS: For more information about DIABETES, call 212-583-2716; about SOY, call 573-882-3346; about SPINAL, call 415-476-2557; about COMPUTER, call 614-292-8457.)

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