ANDREW FRANCIS WALLACE/TORONTO STAR Dr. Ravi Retnakaran of Mount Sinai Hospital poses with a vial of insulin at the hospital’s research facility on Tuesday. Mount Sinai is launching a clinical study aimed at putting type II diabetes into remission with pre-emptive insulin therapy. Research shows this method of therapy could reduce the number of Canadians suffering from the disease.
And Dr. Ravi Retnakaran, who sees it as just that, is leading the way.
“The immediate implication is that we have good evidence that this will work,” he said of the data results published Tuesday in the Lancet Diabetes and Endocrinology journal. “If the current trial is successful, it would give you a very different way of treating diabetes. You treat it intermittently.”
The study could impact how the medical community plans treatment for diabetes patients. Currently, insulin therapy is the last line in patient treatment. By the time insulin is prescribed the beta cells in the pancreas, which produce insulin, have been damaged beyond repair.
“None of our current medications can change this,” he said. “The usual course is they start on one medication and we add another and another and in the end many patients will require insulin permanently.”
By treating patients early on it could preserve the function of the beta cells and alter the normal progression of the disease, he added.
The hopes are future diabetes treatment will be as “easy as getting a haircut” for patients, Retnakaran said. It is anticipated weekly intensive insulin therapy every few months in the very early stages of the disease will improve patients’ quality of life by forcing the disease into remission permanently.
“It’s preventative in terms of preventing the deterioration of the beta cells,” he said. “The hope is this is a way we could stop it.”
The new Mount Sinai clinical study will also be supported by study sites in London and Hamilton.