UB researchers have received a $600,000 grant from the American Diabetes Association
to further a pilot study they conducted that found that a drug used
to treat Type 2 diabetes could also help Type 1 diabetics.
If the initial findings on liraglutide are confirmed in the
larger study, it could mean the first significant new treatment for
Type 1 diabetes since insulin’s discovery in the 1920s.
The three-year prospective, randomized study will examine how
the addition of injectable liraglutide—marketed as
Victoza—impacts blood sugar levels of teenagers and young
adults currently treated for Type 1 diabetes with insulin
Dandona, MD, PhD, UB distinguished professor of medicine and
the chief of the Division of Endocrinology, Diabetes and
Metabolism, is principal investigator.
Quattrin, MD, A. Conger Goodyear Professor and Chair of the Department of
Pediatrics, is a co-investigator.
“This pivotal project has the potential to enhance therapy
for Type 1 diabetes in adolescents, where blood sugar control is
traditionally difficult,” says Quattrin, who is also chief of
the department’s Division
of Pediatric Endocrinology and director of the Diabetes
Center at Women and Children’s Hospital of Buffalo.
The American Diabetes Association awarded the grant to Dandona
after he and his co-authors published the article “Liraglutide
as Additional Treatment in Type 1 Diabetes” in the European Journal of
Endocrinology. The paper described how administration of
liraglutide in Type 1 adult diabetics results in a significant and
rapid reduction in glycemic fluctuations and a subsequent rapid
reduction in the amount of insulin they need.
The paper also reported a significant reduction in
subjects’ body weight over a six-month period.
The findings were made in a small group of people whose glucose
levels were already very well-controlled, but who, like most Type 1
diabetics, nevertheless experience significant hyperglycemic and
hypoglycemic fluctuations or excursions.
“The action of liraglutide in patients with Type 2
diabetes is largely due to an increase in insulin secretion from
the pancreas,” Dandona explains. “But since Type 1
diabetics have no insulin secretion, our preliminary study
demonstrated that in these patients, liraglutide’s effect was
independent of insulin secretion.”
Dandona notes that liraglutide’s benefit in such patients
may be due to the suppression of glucagon, a hormone that raises
glucose levels. An abstract based on this work was presented at the
Endocrine Society in 2011 and judged best in the field of
In addition to Quattrin, co-investigators on the study are
Antoine Makdissi, MD, clinical assistant professor of medicine, and
D. Mastrandrea, MD, PhD, assistant professor of pediatrics.
Dandona also is leading research to investigate the relationship
between the dose of liraglutide and the quality of blood sugar
control in Type 1 diabetics. That research is funded by a $400,000
grant from Novo Nordisk
Pharmaceuticals, which manufactures Victoza.