A new study has shown that people in prediabetic state were 81 percent less likely to convert into type 2 diabetes patients when treated with drug pioglitazone, brand name Actos(R).
Lead researcher Dr. Ralph A. DeFronzo, professor and chief of diabetes at The University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio, said the study also showed that the patients randomized to take pioglitazone also recovered part of their insulin production and their bodies became more sensitive to insulin, therefore using it more efficiently to control plasma glucose or blood sugar.
"Prediabetes, I believe, is really diabetes," said Dr. DeFronzo.
The study involved 602 individuals with impaired glucose tolerance, a prediabetic state, along with 102 healthy controls.
Pioglitazone corrects two core defects in type 2 diabetes, insulin resistance and beta cell failure. Beta cells are the cells in the pancreas that secrete insulin.
"The drug is the best insulin sensitizer we have and it also preserves beta cell function. The clinical response in this study is next to astronomical, not 100 percent but obviously highly significant."
The findings revealed that 10 subjects with impaired glucose tolerance developed diabetes while taking pioglitazone as compared to 45 subjects with impaired glucose tolerance who developed diabetes after receiving a placebo.
It also showed that 42 percent of individuals in the pioglitazone arm of the study returned to normal glucose tolerance at the study's end versus 28 percent of those in the placebo arm.
Currently, no drug is approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for treatment of prediabetes to prevent progression to diabetes.
A drug to treat impaired glucose tolerance and prevent further decline is therefore of great importance.
The findings were presented on June 9 during the 68th Scientific Sessions of the American Diabetes Association in San Francisco.