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There is hope...JDRF Discovers Link Between High Blood Sugars and Retinopathy

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12 January 2006

There is hope...JDRF Discovers Link Between High Blood Sugars and Retinopathy

After almost a full week of the New York Times series on the diabetes epidemic, we all need some good news.

A group of researchers from the JDRF International Center for Diabetic Complications Research, led by Michael Brownlee, M.D., found that methylglyoxal (MG), a glucose derived molecule overproduced in cells damaged by hyper-glycemia, stimulates a gene (angiopoietin-2) which is key to the loss of small blood vessels in the retina (retinopathy) which leads to blindness - one of the worst complications of diabetes. The discovery helps explain the disease process of retinopathy and will enable researchers to develop new drug therapies for retinopathy as well as renal therapy - kidney failure, another major complication of diabetes.

There are two other pieces of information that make this article of interest:

1. Michael Brownlee, MD, the head of research for JDRF has had Type 1 diabetes since he was 8 years old. How is that for courage?

2. Complications linked to this molecule are also linked to the growth of cancerous tumors. Further research in this area may also lead to cancer-fighting agents that would aid in the destruction of tumor cells.

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