Some powerful new cancer drugs trigger diabetes for unknown reasons

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The first two rounds of treatment went off without a hitch. But last November, after receiving a third dose of potent immunotherapy for his skin cancer, Rich Lenihan started to feel tired and weak.

He was urinating constantly, and no amount of water could abate his thirst. A blood test revealed glucose levels that were through the roof.

Lenihan, at age 62, had developed a disease akin to type 1 diabetes — formerly called “juvenile” diabetes — a rare complication of drugs known as checkpoint inhibitors that rev up the body’s immune assault on tumor tissue.

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Roughly 1% of patients receiving immunotherapy drugs experience the same irreversible side effect. Making matters worse, oncologists have little clue why.

Related article:  A third of cancer drug clinical trials don’t report on race. Here’s why that matters

On [May 29], the Parker Institute for Cancer Immunotherapy, JDRF (formerly called the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation), and the Helmsley Charitable Trust announced they are joining forces to launch a $10 million, three-year research initiative designed to identify the root causes of drug-induced diabetes among cancer patients.

Eventually, researchers involved in the project hope to discover new therapeutic strategies for preventing diabetic complications without sacrificing any of the cancer-destroying potential of livesaving immunotherapy drugs.

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Read full, original post: A lifesaver with a catch: Powerful new cancer drugs can trigger diabetes — and no one is certain why

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