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Popular diabetes treatment could trigger pancreatitis, pancreatic cancer
Date:4/30/2009

A drug widely used to treat Type 2 diabetes may have unintended effects on the pancreas that could lead to a form of low-grade pancreatitis in some patients and a greater risk of pancreatic cancer in long-term users, UCLA researchers have found.

In a study published in the online edition of the journal Diabetes, researchers from the Larry L. Hillblom Islet Research Center at UCLA found that sitagliptin, sold in pill form as Januvia, caused abnormalities in the pancreas that are recognized as risk factors for pancreatitis and, with time, pancreatic cancer in humans. Januvia is marketed by Merck & Co. Inc. Sitagliptin is a member of a new class of drugs that enhance the actions of the gut hormone known as glucagon-like peptide 1 (GLP-1), which has been shown to be effective in lowering blood sugar in people with Type 2 diabetes. The study is available at http://diabetes.diabetesjournals.org/cgi/content/abstract/db09-0058v1.

"Type 2 diabetes is a lifelong disease people often take the same drugs for many years, so any adverse effect that could over time increase the risk for pancreatic cancer would be a concern," said Dr. Peter Butler, director of the Hillblom Center and the study's lead investigator. "A concern here is that the unwanted effects of this drug on the pancreas would likely not be detected in humans unless the pancreas was removed and examined."

An observed connection between Byetta, a drug used to treat Type 2 diabetes that is related to Januvia in its intended actions, and pancreatitis has already been reported, prompting a Food and Drug Administration warning. Amylin Corp., which markets Byetta, has suggested that since there is no known mechanism linking the cases of pancreatitis with Byetta, the association might be chance. The UCLA study suggests that there may indeed be a link between drugs that enhance the actio
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Contact: Enrique Rivero
erivero@mednet.ucla.edu
310-794-2273
University of California - Los Angeles
Source:Eurekalert

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