FDA OKs drug that treats diabetes through the brain


Patients with Type 2 Diabetes may soon get a very different treatment approach: A drug that helps control blood sugar via the brain — an idea sparked, surprisingly, by the metabolism of migrating birds.

The Food and Drug Administration approved Cycloset, maker VeroScience Inc announced. It’s a new version of an old drug called bromocriptine, used in higher doses to treat Parkinson’s disease and a few other conditions. But unlike its older parent, Cycloset is formulated to require a low, quick-acting dose taken just in the morning — not any other time of day.

That timing provides a increase in a brain chemical that seems to reset a body clock that in turn helps control metabolism in Type 2 diabetes said VeroScience’s Anthony Cincotta, who led the drug’s development.

Several company studies suggest that one morning dose helped lower the usual post-meal blood sugar rise at breakfast, lunch and dinner. Over six months, 35 percent of Cycloset users reached recommended average blood sugar levels, compared with 10 percent of diabetics given a dummy drug, Cincotta said.

You may be wondering where the birds come into the picture…  Years ago, Louisiana State University researchers were studying how migrating birds arrived at their destinations without being emaciated. They develop seasonal insulin resistance, the very condition that in people leads to Type 2 diabetes.

Patients with Type 2 diabetes don’t have those seasonal variations but the theory is the dopamine plays a role anyway.

The researchers discovered a biological clock — in the brain’s hypothalamus — that 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, said Cincotta.


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