Stem Cell Research Delivers
Diabetes Treatment Breakthrough

cellsResearchers at Harvard University have used stem cells to create billions of the insulin-producing cells the body lacks in type 1 diabetes, in what is being called an important advance in the the search for a cure.

The team reported in the journal Cell that it created the insulin-producing pancreatic beta cells from stem cells and then injected them into mice with diabetes. Two weeks later, the mice no longer had diabetes.

“We are now just one preclinical step away from the finish line,” said Douglas Melton, co-chairman of the department of stem cell research and regenerative biology at Harvard, in a report at Medical News Today.

The next step is developing a way to stop the body’s immune system from destroying the new beta cells, as it does in people with type 1 diabetes.

Scientists at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology are working with the team at Harvard on an implant to protect the beta cells. Current tests in mice are showing promising results, Melton said. In the meantime, the team at Harvard is testing the stem cell-derived beta cells in other animals.


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Death Rate Drops to Record Low

green-arrow-going-up2The death rate in this country dropped to its lowest level in history in 2012, according to a new report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

In 2012, the death rate was 732.8 deaths per 100,000 people, a drop of 1.1 percent from 2011, according to a summary of the report published by the blog RxWiki.

The average life expectancy in the United States also reached a record high of 78.8 years, up from 78.7 in 2011. Authors of the report noted that “much of the recent improvement in death rates and life expectancy for population groups examined can be attributed to reductions in death rates from major causes of death, such as heart disease, cancer, stroke, and chronic lower respiratory diseases.”

The 10 major causes of death in 2012 remained the same as in 2011, with heart disease as the top cause (170.5 deaths per 100,000 people) followed by cancer (166.5). Both numbers declined from 2011.

A summary of the findings is available at the CDC website.


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Study Identifies Method to Battle
Cause of Type 2 Diabetes

Rutgers University researcher Victor Shengkan Jin has identified a possible new way to battle type 2 diabetes. (Rugters University photo)

Rutgers University researcher Victor Shengkan Jin has identified a possible new way to battle type 2 diabetes. (Rugters University photo)

Researchers from Rutgers University have found that a drug used to eliminate intestinal parasites may one day help stop type 2 diabetes at its source.

Current medications only treat the symptoms of type 2 diabetes.

But a study led by Victor Shengkan Jin, an associate professor of pharmacology at Rutgers Robert Wood Johnson Medical School, found that a modified version of the parasite-eliminating drug niclosamide can be used to remove excess fat from the liver. That excess fat disrupts the process in which insulin causes the body to correctly absorb glucose, and it often leads to diabetes.

“We used mice to perform proof-of-principle experiments in our laboratory,” Jin said in a news release on the Rutgers website. “We succeeded in removing fat, and that in turn improved the animals’ ability to use insulin correctly and reduce blood sugar.”

Getting rid of the interference of fat, Jin said, is vital to restoring cells’ ability to respond to insulin properly. That would allow the proper amount of glucose to be taken up by cells – and reverse type 2 diabetes completely.

Type 2 diabetes affects 28 million people in this country, and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that 40 percent of all Americans alive today will develop the disease.


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Infographic: About Insulin

Taking a quick look at injectable insulin, critical for people with both type 1 and type 2 diabetes:

Insulin primer 10-3-14

This information and much more about diabetes is available at the American Diabetes Association website.


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Shining a Light – Literally –
On Peanut Allergies

peanutsAre you one of the nearly 2 million people in this country allergic to peanuts?

Fear not: Researchers at the University of Florida may have found a way to keep you safe from the nut-borne threat.

The team developed a device that uses pulsing ultraviolet lights to treat whole peanuts, without destroying the flavor or texture.

The bursts modify the allergic proteins in the nuts, preventing the allergic reactions – including life-threatening anaphylaxis – typically triggered by peanuts.

The goal is to eliminate 99.5 percent of the allergens; the latest tests have removed 80 percent.

Wade Yang, an assistant professor at the university and the leader of the study team, told Medical News Today that reducing the allergens in a serving of peanuts from 150 mg to 1.5 mg would make them safe for 99.5 percent of the people with peanut allergies.


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‘Coaching’ COPD Patients
Helps Improve Quality of Life

office phonePeople with COPD who received regular help with managing stress, learning to relax and participating in light exercise reported feeling better in the long run, researchers have found.

A team at Duke University looked at how a system of telephone “coaching” could help people with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, which affects approximately 15 million people in this country.

In a five-year study based at Duke and the Ohio State University, 147 people with COPD took part in coping skills training via telephone. Psychologists provided general information about COPD, instructions for relaxation techniques and directions for managing stress.

A separate group of 151 people with COPD received phone calls about topics like medication and nutrition.

The people who received coping skills training reported improvements in their mental health and reductions in depression, anxiety, fatigue and shortness of breath.

“Patients with COPD do not often seek mental health services,” said James Blumenthal, one of the study leaders at Duke. “Given the other issues patients face with this illness, they may not feel as though mental health treatment is a priority.”

Read more about the study at Medical News Today.


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Study: Long Hours for Low Pay
Increases Risk for Diabetes

Low-paying jos

A new study links working long hours at low-paying jobs with an increased incidence of type 2 diabetes.

People who work more than 55 hours a week at lower-paying jobs are 30 percent more likely to develop type 2 diabetes than people who work fewer hours, a new study has found.

Researchers from University College London looked at medical records for 222,120 people from Europe, the United States, Japan and Australia. They found that in general, people working 55 hours or more a week had no greater risk for diabetes than people who worked 35 to 40 hours a week.

But when they compared the workers’ socioeconomic status, they found that people with lower-paying jobs were much more likely to develop diabetes.

“The strong socioeconomic patterning in the results was surprising,” Mika Kivim

Study Links Extra Weight
With Stress-Related Illnesses

scaleResearchers from Brandeis University have found evidence that being overweight puts you at greater risk for developing stress-related diseases like type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease and cancer.

The report, published online and summarized at the university’s website, found that people who were overweight had higher levels of stress-related inflammation than those in a healthy weight range.

“We’ve known that overweight and obese individuals already have chronic, low-grade inflammation,” said Nicolas Rohleder, a professor at Brandeis and the study’s principal investigator. “Now, it seems that when you add stress to the mix, it’s a double hit.”

Inflammation is a normal part of your body’s healing response, but the high levels of inflammation caused by stress can lead to diseases like type 2 diabetes.

And the higher your body mass index, the more your body reacts, the study said.


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Expanding Waists Pose
Risk to Women’s Health

tapeA recent study in the Journal of the American Medical Association confirmed a long-held belief about people in the United States: We’re losing the war on belly fat.

The study of waistlines by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention showed that the average waist measurement has grown from 37.6 inches to 38.8 inches since 2000. Men’s waistlines increased by an average of 0.8 inch in that time, while the average measurement for women grew by 1.5 inches.

The CDC looked at data on nearly 33,000 men and women across the country. Researchers said there was no single factor for the increase, although they speculated that a lack of sleep, some medications and certain everyday chemicals that disrupt the endocrine system may play a major role.

And unfortunately, belly fat is the worst kind, as pointed out in a report at Health.com. It’s particularly hazardous to women because:

  • It produces hormones that can affect your appetite and metabolism
  • It increases your risk for heart disease
  • It increases your risk for breast cancer

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Infographic: Dairy and Diabetes

At a major conference this week, a team of scientists from Sweden presented the surprising results of a study of the relationship between your diet and your risk of developing type 2 diabetes:
Dairy 9-17-14
Click here to learn more about the study.


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