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Advances in health and medicine.
Marjorie Bekaert Thomas
Advances in health and medicine.
Diabetes Channel
Reported December 19, 2012

New Approach Saving Diabetics’ Sight?


(Ivanhoe Newswire) – The risk of losing your sight can be a terrifying thought and a true reality for people with diabetes. Diabetic macular edema (DME), a thickening of the center of the retina, will develop in a significant portion of diabetics leading to impaired vision. Well, a new study might have the key to preventing DME from progressing and ultimately save diabetics’ sight. 
Through using insulin-dependent diabetic mice, researchers looked at betacellulin being produced in the pancreas. Betacellulin, or BTC, promotes regeneration of pancreatic beta cells which store and release insulin and has been connected to increased vascular permeability in the retina in past studies.
Researchers found that after injecting insulin into the diabetic mice, their levels of a soluble form of BTC in the retina greatly increased. 
Furthermore, when BTC was injected into the vitreous fluid of non-diabetic mice their vascular permeability also increased, suggesting that the interaction between insulin therapy and BTC is responsible for DME and other vision issues in diabetics. 
The results of the study prove that a therapeutic approach to diabetes combining insulin and an inhibitor of betacellulin could slow down the progression of DME. 
This study came about after a few different instances with diabetics were noticed. 
One was a result of some studies involving type II diabetics. The studies seemed to show a link between beginning insulin therapy and the development of DME. 
The other was an observation by Judah Folkman, M.D., at the Boston Children’s Hospital that pancreatic cancer patients who had developed diabetes after the removal of their pancreas typically did not develop proliferative retinopathy. 
"These studies suggest that a combinatorial treatment of insulin and EGF inhibition might be a useful therapeutic combination to prevent macular edema, but needs to be determined in people with diabetes," Bela Anand-Apte, M.D., Ph.D., a researcher from the Cleveland Clinic was quoted as saying. 
Although Dr. Anand-Apte points out the need for human trials before this approach can be accepted as a valid treatment for human diabetics, these results are promising. 
So for the estimated 25.8 million Americans who are currently living with diabetes, fear of losing their sight may soon be a thing of the past. 
Source: American Society for Cell Biology Annual Meeting, 17 December, 2012


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