HSC Researchers Testing Effectiveness of Two Drugs in Preventing Diabetes

The UNM Health Sciences Center Diabetes Research Center is currently screening people to enroll in a study designed to test the effectiveness of two drugs in preventing type II diabetes in people at-risk for the disease who have known cardiovascular disease risk factors.

The center will screen almost 2,000 people for enrollment in the five-year international clinical trial, said Principal Investigator David Schade, M.D., professor of Medicine.

Type II Diabetes is a disease that develops when the body becomes insensitive to the insulin needed to regulate blood sugar levels. Research shows people with type II diabetes are at a higher risk for developing heart disease, circulation disorders, kidney failure and blindness.

New Mexico has one of the highest rates in the U.S. of people suffering from diabetes. It is estimated 6.7 percent of its population has the disease and rates are highest among Native American and Hispanics.

Results in an earlier, five-year prevention study were so positive about the impact of the role of regular exercise and diet in diabetes prevention, that study was halted in its fourth year.

However many people face barriers to eating correctly and exercising on a regular basis, said Schade. For instance, it can be a challenge to find low-fat fast food that can fit into a busy lifestyle and difficult in rural areas to obtain affordable fresh, low-carbohydrate foods. Hence the continuing interest in developing medicines that prevent diabetes and its side-effects.

"It is an insidious disease and we want to be able to prevent the side-effects that that can shorten lives," said Schade.

The previous diabetes prevention study showed that one medication, Metiformin, reduced the chances of developing diabetes by 30 percent. The medicine, however, had a number of side effects that forced some patients to abandon it. The current study is testing two medicines one that has been developed for diabetes and another that originally was developed to lower high blood pressure but that has also been shown to lower insulin levels.

Patients being screened for the study must be at least 50 years old, have impaired glucose tolerance and have at least one known cardiovascular risk factor such as high cholesterol or high blood pressure. Patients will be reimbursed for their time.

For more information on the study, contact the Diabetes Research and Treatment Center at (505) 272-3870.

Contact: Cindy Foster, 272-3322

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