Muscle relaxant could treat Wolfram syndrome

Wolfram syndrome, a rare form of diabetes that typically requires insulin injections several times a day and can cause hearing loss and vision problems, could be treated with a common muscle relaxant.

Researchers at Washington University School of Medicine found that elevated levels of the calpain 2 enzyme were responsible for the destruction of insulin-producing cells.

Dantrolene, a muscle relaxant, appeared to prevent this destruction in animal models and in cell models derived from patients with the illness.

The drug is typically prescribed to people who have conditions like cerebral palsy or multiple sclerosis.

Prevention of early death?

According to a press release on the study, Wolfram syndrome affects one in 500,000 people worldwide, and many patients with the condition don't live past the age of 40.

If dantrolene is proven to be effective in treating Wolfram syndrome, it could also be developed into a treatment for other types of diabetes.

The next step, researchers said, is to conduct more clinical trials.

"We'd like to test the drug first in adult patients with Wolfram syndrome, and if we get positive results, we could extend the trial to children," said Dr. Fumihiko Urano, senior investigator of the study.

Source: Washington University School of Medicine

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