Medication lets some diabetics skip injections
A new medication tested at the Health Science Center will let many diabetics avoid insulin injections, the lead investigator said.
Glucophage, trade name for a drug called metformin, already has become the largest selling prescription for diabetes in the United States. It reached the market in May 1995.
"The development of metformin is a major advance for our diabetic patients," said Ralph A. DeFronzo, MD, chief of the Health Science Center's diabetes division. Dr. DeFronzo headed two studies of metformin that were published in the New England Journal of Medicine late last year.
Another class of medications helped 15 percent to 20 percent of diabetics control blood sugar levels without injecting insulin, Dr. DeFronzo said. But he said metformin will help up to 60 percent of diabetes patients.
Here it comes: The best view yet of the brain
Scientists at the Health Science Center have introduced an imaging system they say will produce the best pictures ever of how the human brain functions.
A 2-foot-long cylinder fits inside a conventional MRI, or magnetic resonance imager. With a subject's head inside, it produces a magnetic field tuned to take superfast and highly detailed images of the brain at work.
"Using this device instead of a full-body MRI for mapping brain function is similar to moving from a magnifying glass to a microscope," said Peter T. Fox, MD, director of the Research Imaging Center (RIC), a component of the Health Science Center that develops and uses sophisticated equipment and procedures to map functions of the brain.
Conventional MRI is used to scan the entire body. The images help physicians diagnose internal diseases and injuries.
The device was originally designed by the RIC. The design was refined with input from Advanced NMR Systems Inc. of Wilmington, Mass., in coordination with Elscint Ltd., an Israeli company. The system is being tested by Elscint and the RIC. Software for controlling the system is being written by the RIC. Called the InstaScan EPI Neuro System, the unit's cost is projected to be a 10th of the cost of a conventional MR imager.
The system records images in 40 millisecond intervals, the fastest in the world, Dr. Fox said.
New strategy evolves for coronary bloackages
Removing coronary blockages is routine but keeping them unblocked is another matter. Therapies such as angioplasty or stenting often work well, but blockages recur in 25 percent to 50 percent of patients who undergo these procedures.
A Health Science Center cardiologist now is pioneering a method of delivering a blood thinner to the spot of the problem. R. Stefan Kiesz, MD, in a series of experimental surgeries in Poland, strings a tiny catheter through the artery. The catheter has a tiny balloon on one end that contains heparin, the blood thinner. Surgeons inflate the balloon at the blockage so it embeds in the artery wall and releases the drug.
Dr. Kiesz suspects the direct application will reduce risk of another blockage. How effective is the treatment? He says answers will be clearer before the end of the year.
Return to index