Type 2 diabetes: Experimental therapy could remove need for insulin
Written by Timothy Huzar on October 17, 2020 — Fact checked by Hilary Guite, FFPH, MRCGP
Scientists have proposed a new therapy for type 2 diabetes. If proven effective, the therapy could help some people discontinue insulin treatment.
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Scientists have proposed a new therapy for the treatment of type 2 diabetes, with a proof-of-concept study showing positive initial results. If effective, the therapy may mean that some people can stop taking insulin treatment.
The authors of the research presented their findings at UEG Week Virtual 2020, a conference organized by United European Gastroenterology, a professional nonprofit organization for specialists in digestive health.
Type 2 diabetes
According to the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, a person may have type 2 diabetes when their blood sugar is too high.
People gain blood sugar, or blood glucose, mainly from the food they eat. Insulin helps cells access this glucose to use as energy. However, for a person with type 2 diabetes, either their body does not make enough insulin or their cells do not respond to insulin correctly.
This then means that the glucose in their blood increases, which can lead to complications of diabetes, such as heart and kidney disease, visual impairment, and loss of sensation in the limbs. The higher the blood glucose over time, the higher the risk of these complications.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), about 1 in 10 adults in the United States have diabetes, and 90–95% of these individuals have type 2 diabetes.
Doctors typically recommend lifestyle changes, such as being more physically active and eating a more healthful diet, to treat type 2 diabetes, as well as medications to manage a person’s blood pressure and blood glucose levels.
Insulin treatment may be necessary if a person is unable to maintain their blood sugar at normal levels. This treatment can take the form of injections, pens, pumps, or inhalers. It encourages the cells in a person’s body to absorb more blood sugar.
However, people’s perception of the side effects of insulin treatment can be quite pronounced. As a result, doctors may be less likely to prescribe insulin, and, when they do, people may not take it regularly.
Consequently, therapies that can avoid these perceived side effects may be valuable in ensuring that people keep up with their prescribed treatment and avoid risking serious health issues.