Diabetes volunteers needed to participate in study on antioxidants use

Diabetes researchers are looking for volunteers for a clinical study on a new way to improve the life of patients with Type 2 diabetes.

Dr. Paul Robertson, an Islander and research scientist with the Pacific Northwest Diabetes Research Institute in Seattle, is looking for candidates to participate in a study to see if a powerful antioxidant can help heal and even reverse the damage from Type 2 diabetes.

The lab headed by Robertson, is testing the hypothesis that an existing antioxidant, n-acetylcysteine, combined with conventional therapies, will help reduce glucose levels because of its protective effect for the patients’ pancreatic cells. Pancreatic cells produce insulin to control glucose toxicity.

Strengthening insulin-producing cells may help prevent or perhaps even reverse their eventual deterioration in diabetics.

If treatments with antioxidants are shown to be effective in lowering glucose, such a finding could lead to improving the health of the 23.6 million Americans afflicted with the disease.

N-acetylcysteine, commonly known as N-a-C,  can be found over the counter at health food stores and online. It is often used as a supplement by body builders, although no direct benefit has been found from using the compound as a supplement in healthy people.

Physicians do use N-a-C in much higher doses to counteract the overdose of acetaminophen and reduce damage to the liver.

Robertson’s lab has already demonstrated that glucotoxic effects on insulin produced naturally in animals can be prevented by treatment with antioxidants. But more work needs to be done.

“In order to move forward,” Robertson said of his work, “we need more volunteers.”

Diabetes is a serious health issue across the United States and here in Washington. The numbers are sobering. One of every 16 adults in King County has diabetes. According to the most recent data from the Washington State Department of Health, about 444,000 people in Washington have diagnosed diabetes. More than 162,000 people have undiagnosed diabetes.

More than one million people have pre-diabetes.

To participate in this study, volunteers must:

• Be 18 to 70 years of age.

• Have a known diagnosis of Type 2 diabetes.

• Not have a known intolerance to n-acetylcysteine.

• Have maintained a stable glucose control routine for three months.

• Are available for visits to the research lab for three days.

The research center needs 40 to 50 people to join the clinical trial. Participants who qualify and enroll will be eligible for compensation.

For more information, visit the study’s web site at


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