New prevention to type 1 diabetes

Healthwatch

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An old drug to treat blood pressure might hold the power to preventing or delaying type 1 diabetes in those at risk.  

Lisa Meyers wears an insulin pump and checks her blood sugar several times a day to keep her type 1 diabetes in check. 

She says, “It’s a 24/7 thing. It’s just a constant thought about blood sugar and how it relates to what I’m gonna do.” 

She’s a diabetes educator and helps patients navigate the disease. It’s a job she wishes she didn’t have.

Lisa continues, “If other people could be prevented from having to live this … that, to me, is a joy.” 

Dr. Aaron Michels, Associate Professor of Pediatrics & Medicine, University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus, says doctors are better than ever at predicting who will develop type 1 diabetes. 

Dr. Michaels explains, “If a disease can be predicted, it really should be prevented.”

About 60 percent of patients have a gene called HLADQ8. In a years-long search for a way to block that gene, Dr. Michaels found promise in an unlikely place, a decades-old blood pressure drug called Methyldopa. 

Dr. Michaels adds, “It blocked DQ8. It blocked its function.” 

That means the drug could delay the diagnosis, or even prevent it altogether. If the research pans out in bigger trials, it will be a major milestone.

Dr. Michaels says, “Living with diabetes is a lot of work. And it’s a lot of work that doesn’t go away.” 

For Dr. Michaels, it’s personal. He’s been living with type 1 diabetes for 26 years. 

He continues, “Things really do need to be done to lessen the burden for patients and their families.” 

His oldest daughter has it too. 

Dr. Michaels says, “Any amount of time we can have a child and their family not have to deal with those burdens of type 1 diabetes would be fantastic.”    

People with the DQ8 gene are about ten-times more likely to develop type one diabetes.

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