New medicine could be a game-changer for people, pets with diabetes

Described as a potential game-changer for people with diabetes, an experimental drug is being tested in New England on dogs with high blood sugar.

A few months ago, Olaf, a 4-year-old Siberian Husky, wasn't acting like himself.

"He came in from a walk, threw himself down in a way and just started yelping in pain," said Gina Dacey of Haverhill.

Dacey didn't know it yet, but her dog was diabetic.

"That's where they found his blood sugar was incredibly high," she said.

Dacey now had to give Olaf two insulin shots a day. One in the morning and one at night.

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"It was terrible. There were a few times where I had called our vet sobbing because we were doing every single thing she told us to and his numbers were still through the roof," said Dacey.

She began looking for help, signing up for an experimental program in the Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine at Tufts University.

Dr. Orla Mahony is testing a new "ultra-long" insulin on Olaf. Instead of two insulin shots a day, diabetic cats and dogs would need just one shot a week.

"So far it's delivering on its promise," Mahony said.

It's promising not just for dogs, but for humans, too. Mahony says the company behind the new insulin is also developing one for people so diabetics could only need one shot of insulin a week.

But first, they need to see how it works on Olaf.

"That's the big question. We're hoping that it's just as effective or maybe more effective than the current treatment that the pets are receiving," said Mahony.

Gina says she's already noticed a big improvement in her dog.

"He so far is exceeding what they thought was going to happen," said Dacey.

She says Olaf's blood sugar levels are right where they should be and Mahony told her if things continue the way they are, Olaf should live a nice long, healthy life.

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