Denmark repeals fat tax, nixes sugar tax to fight obesity | Merck stops development of combination diabetes drug | Related poll:
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November 28, 2012
TRI SmartBrief
Research transforming the study of diabetes and obesity
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Denmark repeals fat tax, nixes sugar tax to fight obesity
Denmark has repealed a much-criticized year-old tax on foods that are high in saturated fats and has decided against implementing a tax on sugar as a way to fight obesity. Margo Wootan of the Center for Science in the Public Interest in Washington, D.C., said that she was not surprised by the decision and that it is easier to tax specific foods than to issue surcharges at the nutrient level. The New York Times (tiered subscription model) (11/12)
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Science & Research
Merck stops development of combination diabetes drug
Merck & Co. cited business reasons in its decision to stop development of a diabetes pill that would have combined its Januvia and a generic version of Lipitor, Pfizer's cholesterol drug. Drugmakers see combination drugs as a way to reduce the number of medications patients take. Merck already markets Juvisync, which is Januvia plus the cholesterol drug simvastatin. Reuters (11/13)
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Related poll:
What implications will Merck's announcement that it has abandoned plans to develop a combination drug to treat T2D have on other companies' plans to develop combination drugs for diabetes patients?
Check out the results to this survey in next month's TRI SmartBrief.
VoteIt will discourage other companies from developing these therapies due to financial concerns
VoteIt will discourage other companies from developing these therapies due to safety/regulatory concerns
VoteIt will have no effect: Companies will still see value in combination therapies
Bariatric surgery may raise liver failure risk, research finds
Bariatric surgery patients may have a higher risk of developing acetaminophen-induced acute liver failure, California Pacific Medical Center researchers reported. They said the weight-loss procedure can change how the body processes drugs and alcohol. MedPage Today (free registration) (11/11)
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Study IDs new type 2 diabetes marker
People who have above-average levels of SFRP4 protein in their blood have a higher risk of developing type 2 diabetes compared with those with below-average levels, research published in Cell Metabolism found. The findings suggest SFRP4, which has a part in inflammatory processes, may serve as a marker for diabetes risk and may lead to the development of new diabetes treatments, researchers said. Medical News Today (11/8)
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Pancreatic stem cells show promise for type 1 diabetes
Australian researchers have identified pancreatic stem cells that can be converted into insulin-producing cells and found that the cells' number and capacity to become insulin-producers also appeared to increase in response to pancreatic damage. The findings in PLoS ONE may pave the way for new type 1 diabetes treatments, researchers said. Medical News Today (11/14)
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Islet cell transplants show promise for treating type 1 diabetes
Scientists at the University of Miami's Diabetes Research Institute are studying transplanted islet cells in patients with severe type 1 diabetes. Those who have undergone the treatment have been able to stay off insulin for five years, which is comparable to patients who received pancreas transplants. Researchers are working on ways, such as encapsulation, to make the transplanted cells survive longer and minimize the use of antirejection drugs. The Miami Herald (tiered subscription model) (11/10)
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CDC data show sharp increase in U.S. diabetes rates
Diabetes cases increased by at least 50% in 42 states and by at least 100% in 18 states between 1995 and 2010, a study in the CDC's Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report indicated. Southern and Appalachian states showed the highest increases. Ann Albright of the CDC said rates will keep rising "until effective interventions and policies are implemented to prevent both diabetes and obesity." Reuters (11/15)
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Products & Innovation
Report: 221 new diabetes treatments are under development
A total of 221 new drugs for diabetes and related diseases are awaiting FDA approval or are in clinical studies, according to a report from the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America. The treatments include 130 for type 2 diabetes, 32 for type 1 diabetes, 14 for unspecified diabetes and 64 for related conditions, with some medications in multiple categories. PharmaTimes (U.K.) (11/14)
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Research will explore stem cell treatment in diabetes models
Researchers at the National University of Ireland in Galway are spearheading research on the use of bone marrow-derived stem cells in preclinical models of diabetes-related complications. The European Union is funding the initiative. The Irish Times (Dublin) (11/19)
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Trends & Technology
Big Pharma firms work together on clinical databank
Johnson & Johnson, Merck & Co. and Eli Lilly & Co. are pooling information about clinical investigators in an effort to speed the clinical trial process and avoid repeating one another's efforts. The databank will make information on investigators' clinical practice training available across the three firms, allowing investigators looking into a new indication or disease to forgo training at one firm if they have already had the appropriate training at another. Reducing the administrative burden will effectively expand the pool of investigators, said Dr. Andreas Koester, chief of clinical trial innovation at J&J unit Janssen Research & Development. Pharmalot/Pharma Blog (11/16)
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Health groups collaborate to create database that tracks outcomes
The International Consortium for Health Outcomes Measurement, started by the Institute for Strategy and Competitiveness at Harvard Business School, the Karolinska Institutet and Boston Consulting Group, is creating a database of medical registries that aims to boost care quality by better tracking outcomes. The groups will classify health measures and outcomes and put them in a format that enables providers to examine medical care quality in various countries. MedPage Today (free registration) (11/4)
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TRI News
TRI's Dr. Steven R. Smith comments on clinical status of promising obesity therapy
As biopharma firms continue to explore the value of treatments for the severely obese, certain drugs in development, including Zafgen, Inc.'s beloranib, are receiving greater attention. Zafgen announced earlier this month that it has initiated Phase 2a clinical testing of its anti-obesity drug beloranib following positive results from three consecutive Phase 1b studies that showed rapid weight loss and reductions in body fat in addition to other significant improvements among participants. In the news release by Zafgen announcing the results, Steven R. Smith, M.D., TRI's scientific director, commented: "This new trial will evaluate how the effects of this novel therapy extend with longer treatment in patients with type 2 diabetes, an important obesity-related co-morbid condition, and will be an important scientific milestone in shaping its use in the treatment of obesity and its related conditions." Read more here.
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Poll: November is National Diabetes Awareness Month. How are you planning to show support?
Participate in a walk sponsored by my local chapter of a diabetes organization  23.33%
Advocate for increased research funding to find a cure  23.33%
Wear special clothing or diabetes-themed accessories, such as awareness bracelets  20.00%
Use social media to share advice for improving diabetes self-management  20.00%
Donate to my favorite diabetes-focused charity  13.33%
SmartQuote
The passion for setting people right is in itself an afflictive disease."
-- Marianne Moore,
American poet and writer
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