Diabetes drug can help fight lethal cancer complications

Friday, September 25, 2009

WASHINGTON - A drug commonly used to treat type 2 diabetes can help fight lethal complications accompanying cancer, say researchers.esearchers from Ohio State University have found that drug rosiglitazone can help combat muscle wasting and severe fat loss among cancer patients.

The syndrome called cachexia is responsible for between one-fifth and one-third of all cancer deaths.

“Insulin resistance usually follows obesity. In this case, it precedes uncontrollable fat loss,” said Martha Belury, senior author of the study and a professor of human nutrition at Ohio State University.

“The insulin resistance is the process we’ve identified that occurs soon after tumours form.

“So if we can change that part of the disease, we might be able to change the progression and trajectory of how fast fat and muscle are lost as well. That’s our goal,” she added.

Belury and colleagues conducted two experiments. In the first, the researchers sought to demonstrate that animals developed insulin resistance shortly after they developed cancer and before muscle and fat loss became evident.

In the second, they tested the effectiveness of the insulin sensitizing drug rosiglitazone against that same tendency toward insulin resistance.

In less than two weeks, mice injected with colon cancer cells to mimic one of several digestive-system cancers strongly associated with the development of cachexia had become insulin resistant.

In the second study, the scientists tested whether rosiglitazone could “rescue” the insulin resistance in mice with colon cancer.

In this study, mice were fed a high-fat diet and randomized into three groups: mice with and without tumours receiving a saline solution as a control, and mice with tumors treated with daily injections of rosiglitazone.

Within eight days, the mice with cancer receiving the rosiglitazone showed more sensitivity to insulin than did the mice with tumours that received no medication. The insulin sensitivity of the medicated mice matched that of mice without tumours.

“We found that those markers of protein and muscle degradation are increased in mice with cachexia, and then when we gave them rosiglitazone, that significantly slowed that degradation,” said Belury.

The research appears in the International Journal of Cancer. (ANI)

Filed under: Diabetes Drugs, Insulin

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