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Drug may improve insulin production in diabetes patients

Category: Diabetes

Rituximab, a drug used to treat non-Hodgkin's lymphoma and rheumatoid arthritis, may be help patients diagnosed with type-1 diabetes control their insulin levels, according to new research.

A study reported in the November 26 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine found that the drug allowed patients to continue producing their own insulin even though their pancreatic beta cells, which produce the hormone, had been damaged, HealthDay News reports.

After a yearlong investigation, researchers found that insulin levels were higher in the type-1 diabetes patients who were randomly assigned to receive weekly rituximab infusions than in their control group counterparts who received a placebo.

Describing the advantages of the new drug therapy, Dr Vivian Fonseca, director of the Diabetes Institute at, told the news source, "We know that people who produce some of their own insulin tend to have [fewer] complications in the long term."

However, the effect of rituximab on these complications which can include blindness and heart trouble, is unknown.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, about 23.6 million people, or 7.8 percent of the population, had diabetes as of 2007.

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