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UTHSC researchers discover new way to reduce diabetes development

Two UT Health Science Center researchers have discovered a new way to reduce the development of type 2 diabetes. Two UT Health Science Center researchers have discovered a new way to reduce the development of type 2 diabetes.

The research of scientists Abbas Kitabchi, PhD, MD, (Maston K. Callison Professor) and Frankie B. Stentz, PhD, associate professor – both in the Department of Medicine (Endocrinology) – have contributed to a related article published in the current issue of the New England Journal of Medicine.

The article, “Pioglitazone for Diabetes Prevention in Impaired Glucose Tolerance,” discusses pioglitazone as a treatment for reducing the risk of type 2 diabetes in adults who have impaired glucose intolerance (IGT).

The UTHSC research proves that pioglitazone reduces the conversion of IGT to diabetes by 72 percent in individuals whose obesity, ethnicity, and other markers put them at high risk for the disease.  However, study participants who took pioglitazone exhibited significant weight gain and edema, and swelling caused by excess fluid retention, but not heart failure.  

Type 2 diabetes mellitus affects 24 million Americans and its prevalence is increasing.  Eye, kidney and heart disease complications are common in type 2 diabetes mellitus and are related to both the severity and the duration of hyperglycemia, abnormally high blood sugar.  

The study enrolled 602 participants in eight locations: the main site in San Antonio, Texas, and seven collaborating centers – one at UTHSC here in Memphis.  Study results have direct implications for the care of 79 million Americans (2010 estimate) who are pre-diabetic.  IGT is associated with increased rates of cardiovascular disease, as well as conversion to type 2 diabetes mellitus. Interventions that may prevent or delay such occurrences are of great clinical importance.

“This landmark paper shows that it is possible to slow the development of type 2 diabetes mellitus,” said Guy L. Reed, MS, MD, Lemuel Diggs Professor of Medicine, and chairman of the Department of Medicine in the UT College of Medicine.  

“Diabetes is an enormous public health problem in Memphis and the United States.  Coverage of this study in the most important journal published in the field of clinical medicine is a noteworthy achievement.”

According to the Texas researcher who served as the principal investigator for the study, the 72 percent reduction is the largest decrease in the conversion rate of pre-diabetes to diabetes that has ever been demonstrated by any intervention, be it diet, exercise or medication.

Pioglitazone is marketed as Actos® by Takeda Pharmaceutical Co. Ltd., the Japanese company that provided an independent investigator grant to conduct the ACT Now study.

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