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Working with Local Physicians on Diabetes Treatment

Working with Local Physicians on Diabetes Treatment

May 12, 2014

Medical Research

Jewish Exponent — For many individuals, a diagnosis of type 1 diabetes means a lifetime of ongoing health issues and dependence on insulin injections.

However, the outlook and fortunes for many of these patients may soon change, thanks to the efforts of BGU’s diabetes expert Dr. Eli Lewis, director of BGU’s Clinical Islet Laboratory and senior lecturer in the Department of Clinical Biochemistry and Pharmacology.

After years of research, the innovative application established by Dr. Lewis — boosting the presence of illness-fighting alpha-1 antitrypsin protein (or alpha1 for short) in diabetes patients — is proving to be a success in medical trials across the United States and in Israel.

The results of the first trial, funded by Colorado-based Omni Bio Pharmaceutical, Inc. (where Dr. Lewis is a member of the scientific board) — which included Philadelphia as a trial site — were published just a few months ago.

Eli Lewis in Mid-Atlantic Region

BGU diabetes researcher Dr. Eli Lewis (left) with Howard Levin and Dr. Eydie Rudman of Rydal, Pennsylvania, hosts during his local visit

Dr. Lewis was recently in Philadelphia as a guest of AABGU’s Mid-Atlantic Region. Among his topics of discussion was working with physicians in Philadelphia on the project.

“We just formed a collaboration between the Philadelphia team and my team in Israel at BGU to see if our materials and theories could actually synergize,” says Dr. Lewis.

“Both of our teams are working on molecules that the body produces naturally, so there is nothing synthetic or artificial. If the synergy between our teams work, then that’s a powerful combination.”

At one of the local events with Dr. Lewis, Dana Heffernan-Green, a Texan whose son, Zach, was diagnosed with the disease, spoke about her involvement in using the drug. She had heard about Dr. Lewis’ work and talked to her endocrinologist about her son taking the drug. He is now insulin-free, she told the audience.

Dr. Lewis himself is heartened by the recent progress.

“What we have been working on over the past several years is a prototype of a biologic drug form of alpha-1 optimized for type 1 diabetes, so that it can be more accessible, mass-produced, and not human-derived,” says Dr. Lewis.

“The hope is that rather than going through infusion — which can take an hour for the drug to be introduced totally into the body — there may be better options such as an injection, which might “make the intake of the material much easier for patients,” says Dr. Lewis.

Read more on the Jewish Exponent website >>