From left to right: Margaret Watson, research coordinator; Greg Ackland, research participant; Irene Hramiak, Lawson researcher and endocrinologist at St. Joseph’s Health Care London; and Jocelyne Chauvin, research participant. Photo courtesy of Lawson Health Research Institute.

Aggressive Treatment Sending Diabetes Into Remission

A London man diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes six years ago is praising a local clinical trial by the Lawson Health Research Institute he said reset his body, sending his disease into remission.

Greg Ackland found out he had Type 2 diabetes after an infection developed following a hernia operation. It was then doctors discovered his blood sugar levels were high. The 51-year-old started treatment and was eventually taking four pills per day.

“I watched the progression of my medications and thought ‘I’m losing this battle,’” said Ackland.

After learning about Lawson’s REMIT study, Ackland eagerly enrolled in the clinical trial and has now stopped all medications and his blood sugar levels are good.

“I’m glad I jumped at the opportunity to participate in this trial,” said Ackland. “I’ve reset myself.”

The success and interest in the first two clinical trials, which began in 2015, has prompted Lawson to open enrolment for a third trial.

Lawson is one of seven Canadian sites taking part in the REMIT study, led by the Population Health Research Institute (PIHR) –  a joint institute of McMaster University and Hamilton Health Sciences.

Typically those diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes are treated with a single medication which is then followed by the addition of more drugs and insulin as the disease progresses. But in the REMIT study, patients receive intensive treatment soon after their diagnosis with two diabetes medications plus insulin at bedtime for three months to see if remission can be induced.

“The goal of the REMIT study is to take a proactive approach to help people early in the disease, normalize their blood sugars for a period of 12 weeks and then slow the progression of the disease and the need for additional medications,” said Dr. Irene Hramiak, Lawson researcher, endocrinologist, and Chief of the Centre for Diabetes, Endocrinology and Metabolism at St. Joseph’s Health Care London. “We want to know if we can induce remission, for how long and whether it matters what combination of medications we use.”

In addition, patients are encouraged to adopt a healthy diet and 30 minutes of exercise each day.

“I started taking one pill a day and was told I’d be up to four pills a day within six months,” said Jocelyne Chauvin. “But with good nutrition and exercise, I worked hard to stay on one pill a day for three years.”

The 62-year-old London woman was diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes three years ago after a regular checkup. She enrolled in the Remit study in April of last year and has now stopped all medications.

“The idea of putting type 2 diabetes into remission is changing the way we think about the disease. It has a strong appeal to both those with type 2 diabetes and clinicians,” said Dr. Hramiak. “It’s changing the paradigm of when and how to use medication for type 2 diabetes.”

Anyone who would like more information about the trial can call 519-646-6100 ext. 65373.