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Researchers test oral insulin’s effect on type 1 diabetes

Two London physicians are participating in an international clinical study on behalf of Lawson Health Research Institute to learn whether oral insulin (taken by mouth) can prevent or delay type 1 diabetes in some people at risk for the disease. The number of people diagnosed with type 1 diabetes is increasing each year, especially in children under age five.

“Our goal is to prevent type 1 diabetes or to delay it as long as possible,” said Dr. Jeff Mahon, an endocrinologist at St. Joseph’s Hospital. “If diabetes can be delayed, even for a few years, those at risk may be able to postpone the difficult challenges of trying to control their glucose levels and development of serious complications.” Serious complications of type 1 diabetes include heart disease, stroke, blindness, kidney damage and lower-limb amputations.

Researchers want to know if one insulin capsule a day can prevent or delay type 1 diabetes in a specific group at risk. An earlier clinical trial suggested that oral insulin might delay type 1 diabetes for about four years in certain people. Some scientists think that introducing insulin via the digestive tract induces tolerance, or a quieting of the immune system. Oral insulin has no known side effects.

Researchers are looking for family members of people with type 1 diabetes to participate in the clinical study. “We are particularly interested in finding people who have a high level of specific autoantibodies in their blood,” says Dr. Cheril Clarson, pediatric endocrinologist at Childrens Hospital. “These autoantibodies, which signify an increased risk for developing the disease, can be identified up to 10 years before onset.” Screening involves a simple blood test and is free of charge. Family members of people with type 1 diabetes wishing to take part should contact Lynda Bere, study coordinator at 519-646-6100 ext. 65996.

St. Joseph’s Hospital and London Health Sciences Centre's Children’s Hospital are two of more than 150 medical centers in the U.S., Canada, Europe and Australia participating in this study as part of Type 1 Diabetes TrialNet, a global network of diabetes researchers dedicated to the study, prevention, and early treatment of type 1 diabetes. It is funded by the National Institutes of Health and supported by the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation International and the American Diabetes Association.

For media inquiries please contact:
Rachelle Wood

London London Health Sciences Centre

519-685-8500 ext. 77642

Betty Dann
St. Joseph’s Health Care,
519-646-6100 ext. 64792