Low doses of the cancer treatment drugs vorinostat and givinostat were found to produce the reversion of diabetes and prevent diabetes in mouse trials conducted by researchers in Denmark, Belgium, Italy, Canada, the United States, Holland, and Sweden that was reported in the Jan. 6, 2014, edition of the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
Vorinostat and givinostat are a class of molecules that inhibit the action of lysine deacetylase.
The researchers fed mice that had been genetically selected to have a predisposition to have diabetes low doses of vorinostat and givinostat for 100 to 120 days after the mice were weaned. The mice were not obese.
The combination of drugs reduced the instance of the development of diabetes in the test mice by 38 percent to 45 percent.
Both drugs were found to promote the development of new islet cells in the pancreas. Islet cells are destroyed by diabetes. The increase in the number of islet cells in mice that had diabetes was manifested by an increase in insulin production by 200 percent.
The researchers found that the mechanism of action of both drugs was specific enough to diabetes to warrant human trials in people that have diabetes. The dosage of the drugs administered to the test mice was small enough to be compatible with humans and produce minor side effects.
This is the first demonstration that a combination of drugs that are approved for the treatment of cancer can specifically target and reverse the cause of diabetes.