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New Diabetic Treatment via Brain, Approved

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recently approved the drug Cycloset that could control blood sugar through the brain.

This idea stems from a study from the Louisana State University that started years ago on how migrating birds arrived at their destination without being emaciated. They found out that a seasonal insulin resistance (a condition that leads to diabetes) helped them to do so.

“People don’t have those seasonal variations but the theory is that dopamine plays a role anyway,” the researchers noted.

Anthony Cincotta of Veroscience, Inc., the innovator company of Cycloset explained that a biological clock in the brain’s hypothalamus, controlled when the metabolism change kicked in for the birds, and also in hibernating mammals. “Different concentrations of certain brain chemicals, including dopamine, at different times of day dictated whether the bird metabolized like a fall bird or a summer bird.”

Researchers back then tried to mimic dopamine and discovered bromocriptine. This is issued in higher doses to treat Parkinson’s disease and other conditions. “The difference of Cycloset is that it is formulated to require a low, quick-acting dose taken just in the morning—no other time of the day,” Cincotta said.

He explained that such timing provides a bump of activity in a brain chemical that seems to reset a body clock that in turn helps control metabolism in type 2 diabetes. Further company studies suggested that one morning dose helped lower the usual post-meal blood sugar rise at breakfast, lunch, and dinner. For six months, 35 percent of Cycloset users reached recommended average blood sugar levels, compared with 10 percent of diabetics given a dummy drug.

Cycloset is the first drug to gain FDA approval under new guidelines that require better evidence that diabetes treatments are heart-safe. Diabetics are at increased risk of heart disease. In a year-long safety study involving 3,000 diabetics, those given Cycloset had 42 percent fewer heart attacks and other cardiovascular complications than those given a dummy drug.

It’s uncertain how soon sales can begin, or the drug’s cost: VeroScience, of Tiverton, R.I., is in negotiations with larger drug companies to find a distributor.

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