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NEW ORLEANS - One of the most important things people with diabetes should do is control their blood sugar levels.

The better the control, the less damage will be done to their organs, with fewer serious health complications.

Now testing on a new drug, going on in the New Orleans area, is proving to do just that and you can be one of the first to try it.

Rob Mayeux is a big Saints fan and a big tailgater. Singer Jimmy Buffet even stopped by his tailgating party during the playoffs and sang. But his tailgating, at times, had to be interrupted for a shot of insulin before he ate, because 14 years ago, he found out he had type-2 diabetes.

'I was using the syringe with the little vial and it was hard because you had to keep it refrigerated,' Mayeux explains about having to prepare and give himself regular insulin injections.

But things started changing for Rob in September when he was accepted to a new clinical trial - a study going on around the world and here in Metairie.

'This is a brand new, novel, next generation, long-acting, insulin. There is nothing on the market that is like this insulin,' said Dr. Eileen Palace, the director of the local arm of the study.

What Rob says he likes, is that this new insulin that is being tested, comes in an easy to use pen. It is convenient and the needle is so tiny it doesn't hurt, and the insulin is working better.

'What's happened is I've decreased my A1c level, meaning my blood sugar level has gone down 30 percent, which is I am in the high end of normal for the range and that occurred actually in the first three months because of this study,' said Mayeux.

The study data that are coming in are so good that the company has opened two more studies with this new insulin and are signing up people in the New Orleans area and around the world now. It will be compared to oral medications and doctors will see if diabetics can mange their blood sugar by only taking three injections a week.

'This is a great opportunity for people, particularly in New Orleans, where a lot of people's primary care physicians are gone or they are having trouble getting to their doctor. And a regular doctor, even a very good doctor, is only going to check you probably once a month or once every three months,' explained Dr. Palace.

'We're going to be contacting you either by phone or live, every single week and we're going to be giving you all of your medical care. You're going to see a psychologist, an MD, two nurses, all your medical equipment, all your pens, for free. All your treatment is going to be at no charge to the patient for seven months, so I think it's a wonderful opportunity particularly since I feel very confident that this drug works well.'

Dr. Palace says this new kind of insulin is so different that one day it could mean that instead of newly diagnosed diabetics going on oral medicine first, and then moving to insulin if they don't get good control, this newer insulin could be the first course of treatment. And for Rob, it's meant a difference in the quality of his life because he feels so much better now that his blood sugar is under control.

'I'm not as tired. I'm not lethargic. I have more energy. I have a better frame of mind, overall a general feeling of just being healthier,' Mayeux added.

If you want to join the free diabetes studies, you need to have type-2 diabetes, currently be taking oral diabetes medications, and not be using insulin, but are willing to try this new kind of insulin. To see if you qualify call 504-834-4500.

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