Diabetes Research Roundup Shapes the Future of Prevention & Treatmentby Carissa Andrews - August 13th, 2018
Worldwide, more than 422 million people are affected by the various types of diabetic disorders—a drastic jump from the 108 million affected in 1980. If the upward trend of its significance isn’t halted soon, the World Health Organization (WHO) believes diabetes will become the seventh leading cause of death by 2030. Those are some scary facts. Especially when you consider an estimated 1.6 million deaths in 2015 were directly caused by diabetes and another 2.2 million were tied to high blood glucose, according to WHO. Despite being around for a long time, the exponential growth of people with the disease has the world on alert.
In the United States, a staggering 10% of the population, over 30 million people, have diabetes (though some may be undiagnosed), and another 84 million have prediabetes—which if left unchecked will develop into full blown type 2 diabetes.
Though diabetes in its various forms doesn’t have a cure, it hasn’t stopped the medical community from doing its best to try to find one. 2018 has been a year of progress, developments, and new insights into this deadly disease. Keep reading to learn about new problems, risks, and the future of diabetes treatment.
Air pollution might be responsible for 1 in 7 new diabetes patients, according to a new study published in Lancet Planetary Health. Globally, 3.2 million new cases of type 2 diabetes were directly tied to outdoor air pollution in 2016. Previous research has shown an association between the two before, but this study was the first to quantify the cases linked to poor air quality (approximately 14%).
Lapses in health coverage can mean ER or hospital visits for patients with type 1 diabetes. Keeping blood sugar regulated when you have type 1 diabetes means insulin injections, testing supplies, and very specific, specialized care in order to stay healthy. However, a new study found a whopping 1 in 4 patients had a lapse in coverage of 30 days or more in a 3-year window. Of those diabetes patients, if their coverage lapsed more than 30 days, they were 5x more likely to wind up in the emergency room, hospital care, or urgent care than any time when they were on their medication.
There seems to be a hidden link between heart disease & lung disease with the development of diabetes and vice versa, new research suggests. For those who are aware they have type 2 diabetes, heart disease may simply be a matter of time. While for others, it may take a heart attack to realize they’ve had diabetes all along. In addition, new research is pointing toward a higher risk for those with type 2 diabetes to also have restrictive lung disease (RLD).
There seems to be a significantly higher risk of heart disease for babies born to women with diabetes (gestational or otherwise). Higher blood glucose levels during pregnancy can affect the cells of every critical system of the developing fetus. Watching for signs and symptoms of heart disease in the first ten years of life may help when diagnosing this deadly disease before its too late.
New Studies on Type 1 Diabetes
A single round of antibiotics in early childhood may spur on type 1 diabetes. The intestinal microbiome, as it comes to appear, may play a more prevalent role than originally thought on nutrition, immunity—and whether or not a patient may develop type 1 diabetes down the road. It’s thought the initial microbes found in the gut are the basis to “educate” the burgeoning immune system—and a disruption to the natural course can set the body off on a tailspin; leading to autoimmune diseases like type 1 diabetes.
Low-carb diet may help children with type 1 diabetes control their blood sugar. Carbohydrates contribute to high blood sugar more than any other dietary factor. The study, published in Pediatrics, assessed the glycemic control and adverse events for type 1 diabetes patients who adopted this diet. Results showed high levels of satisfaction as well as near-normal ranges of glycemic control.
British Columbia is testing out stem cells as a means to cure or control type 1 diabetes. 10 patients will have packets with lab-grown cells implanted in their body in the hopes they will begin to respond like true-insulin producing cells.
Pet hamsters kept by mothers during pregnancy have been found to increase type 1 diabetes risk in their children. The Swedish researchers believe hamsters may be harbingers of certain viruses, which can elevate the diabetes type 1 risk. Those affected are still in a small minority, but it’s possible that while pregnant, removing contact with the hamster may make a difference for gestating infants.
Two new studies this year have suggested children born to women with diabetes or high blood pressure may be at higher risk of being born on the autism spectrum. Autism itself has been already linked to type 2 and gestational diabetes patients, but one of the studies now confirms the risks extend to those with type 1 diabetes as well. In fact, children born to women with type 1 diabetes have two times the risk of being autistic than those born to women without any form of diabetes. Of course, for women with gestational and type 2 diabetes, altering to a strict, possibly low-carb diet may help in keeping blood sugar low and safeguarding baby. But the diet extends even to those with type 1, as they’re able to keep their blood sugar in check, and possibly use less insulin.
A vaccine is being tested now to see if virus induced type 1 diabetes might respond well. Enterovirus, and in particular Coxsackievirus B (CVB) is an implicated environmental cause of type 1 diabetes. The CBV1 vaccine has been tested on mice and shows promising results.
Is a cure for diabetes possible? In addition to the promising stem-cell testing, researchers are looking into many possibilities for curing the various forms of diabetes. New treatments on the horizon include looking closely at the microbiome in the gut, new medications, artificial pancreas efforts, and more advanced technology are on the horizon. Interestingly enough, microchips and nanorobots are making headway in the arena of diabetes treatment for type 1. Could it be the future of treatment? Time will tell.
New Studies on Type 2 Diabetes
Pulmonary fibrosis (FB) and other lung diseases may be late complications for patients suffering from type 2 diabetes, according to new research. It’s possible PF may be a diabetes-related complication, due to the epithelial damage with inflammation leading to fibrosis that is exhibited by both PF and diabetes patients. Some interesting findings have been uncovered by those taking metformin, a common oral medication for type 2 diabetes—which continues to be the source of increasing studies.
A 5:2 diet for patients with type 2 diabetes has been shown to benefit them greatly. The concept leans on intermittent fasting; with 2 non-consecutive days of consuming less than 600 calories, then eating normally for the remaining 5 days. It’s important to note, those taking insulin to maintain healthy blood glucose levels need to be monitored by their doctors in case medication doses need to be changed.
Low glycemic index foods can help type 2 diabetes sufferers keep their blood sugar in check, according to research. There are five main types that offer the best bang for their nutritional buck: non-starchy vegetables, berries, nuts & seeds, beans & legumes, and fish.
Inactivity for more than two weeks can bring on type 2 diabetes for older, overweight individuals—with lasting effects, new research is suggesting.
Genetic variants in the DNA are being studied to better treat type 2 diabetes. Almost 63K people with type 2 diabetes, and 600K without it were sampled by the Institute for Molecular Bioscience and the Queensland Brain Institute to investigate how genetic variants might trigger diabetes. Further studies need to be continued to understand how best to leverage the information in order to prevent or treat the disease.
Diabetes is much more aggressive in teens, research is finding. For patients who have type 2 diabetes, leaning on metformin and insulin has lasting benefits. Researchers have found lasting benefits for teens with full onset type 2 diabetes. However, metformin and insulin may not be the best for kids in a prediabetic state. The clearest message and takeaway is to look at the correlation between youth obesity and type 2 diabetes so the source can be combatted.
Medication Treatments for Type 1 and Type 2
Canadian Pharmacy King is a leading online pharmacy that dispenses medications every day to treat all forms of diabetes. Both type 1 and type 2 have medications to help keep blood glucose under control. These are some of the most popular medications we offer:
• Jardiance (for type 2 diabetes)
• Januvia (for type 2, but it also can low blood sugar in type 1)
• Tradjenta (new medication for patients with type 2)
• Verapamil (actually a hypertension medication with the brand name Calan, can be taken in conjunction with insulin to help patients with type 1)
• Metformin (for type 2 diabetes)
A new study published in Nature Medicine has found treatment with a high blood pressure mediation, verapamil, could be as effective at stabilizing blood sugar in those with type 1 diabetes. It just so happens, the calcium channel blocker was found to slow the loss of insulin – which, for type 1 diabetes patients meant having to use less insulin overall. Which is great news!
Gene therapy might be an option for treating, and possibly curing, type 2 diabetes. Researchers in Spain have managed to cure both obesity and type 2 diabetes in mice by leaning on gene therapy. So far, the results were both positive, as well as producing no negative side effects at present time. It’s possible gene therapy that leans on FGF21 production could pave the way to minimizing, or even curing type 2 diabetes in humans.
Artificial pancreas treatment for type 1 diabetes is emerging. This treatment includes an insulin pump and continuous glucose monitoring, so glucose is administered when needed. It automatically adjusts the amount of insulin being injected, reducing human error and the burden on patients who would have had to adjust it themselves.
AI may be the future of predicting and diagnosing diabetes. Apple has teamed up with Aetna to test out whether or not their watches can detect any nerve damage or heartbeat irregularities by leaning on the technology in their Apple Watches.
Is Prevention Better than a Cure?
Research suggests we may be able to predict whether or not individuals may develop type 2 diabetes some twenty years in the future. By leaning on this information, we can more accurately lay out ground work for patients who would like to prevent the onset of prediabetes or type 2 diabetes all together.
Remember, some of the simplest lifestyle changes can have a huge impact on preventing or delaying type 2 diabetes. These include:
• Maintaining a healthy BMI
• Consistent physical activity of 30 minutes or more most days
• Avoiding sugar and saturated fats in the diet; eating a healthy diet
• Avoiding tobacco use, as it increases the risk of both diabetes and cardiovascular disease
• Increase Vitamin D
• Cook or take supplements of Turmeric
• Try a liquid, low-calorie diet
• Try intermittent fasting
With diabetes of all types on the rise, it’s easy to see why researchers are sounding the alarm. Diabetes is on course to be the 7th biggest killer by 2030, if something isn’t done. Type 2 diabetes is closely linked to obesity – and while type 1 may not be preventable, many scientists are convinced type 2 is. The future is uncertain, but there’s plenty of new research happening every day to bring about a new future where diabetes could one day be cured.
Carissa Andrews is a freelance writer, graphic designer, and author. You can learn more about her at her website.
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