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Study links two diabetes drugs’ side effects to genetic differences

New Britain [January 21 2009] - Hospital of Central Connecticut (HCC) physicians co-authored a research article that shows a probable relationship between certain genetic differences and side effects of two diabetes medications. The findings are helping develop a DNA-guided system to help select diabetes drugs and treatments and avoid side effects.

The study, led by Genomas® Inc., and co-authored with investigators from the Joslin Diabetes Center Affiliate at HCC, Hartford Hospital and Yale University School of Medicine, appears in the February 2009 issue of Clinica Chimica Acta.

Side effects of the thiazolidinedione (TZD) class of drugs used to treat diabetes include weight gain and edema (swelling) that worsens congestive heart failure in certain diabetics. TZDs are often given to patients who cannot use other common oral diabetes drugs, such as metformin or sulfonylureas. Patients given TZDs typically are at greater risk of diabetic complications and at an advanced stage of diabetes. Previously, there was no known method to predict such side effects.

The Genomas study involved an analysis of 87 patients taking TZD drugs pioglitazone (Actos®) or rosiglitazone (Avandia®). The study examined differences in patients’ genes that affect certain cardiac, metabolic and endocrine functions of the body and investigated if the drugs produced specific side effects and gene differences. Twenty-five of the 384 gene differences tested showed statistically significant associations with abdominal obesity or edema; this means patients with these particular gene differences are more likely to have such side effects while on TZD drugs.

“For the first time in diabetic care, we can integrate these gene differences into what we call a PhyzioType System – a model that will help us better predict drug side effects,” said Gualberto Ruaño, M.D., Ph.D., president and CEO of Genomas, and director of Genetics Research, Hartford Hospital.

“We are extremely pleased that our collaboration with Genomas is already yielding novel insight into diabetes drug therapy and are very confident that development of a DNA-guided clinical management tool will result from it. There is an urgent public health need to improve the medical management of individuals on TZD therapy for their diabetes,” said article co-author Steven Hanks, M.D., HCC Chief Medical Officer. Other HCC co-authors are endocrinologists James Bernene, M.D., and William Petit, Jr., M.D.

Hartford-based Genomas Inc. is a biomedical company that advances DNA-guided medicine and personalized health care. It has developed other PhyzioType Systems for diagnosis and prevention of metabolic disorders induced by drugs used to treat diabetes, and cardiovascular and psychiatric illnesses.

The Joslin Diabetes Center Affiliate at The Hospital of Central Connecticut provides individualized care for people 18 and older with Type 1 or Type 2 diabetes, as well as pregnant women with diabetes. More than 23 million Americans have diabetes.

Contact: Kimberly Gensicki, 860-224-5900, x6507

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