Five exciting studies on diabetes
This Diabetes Week, we thought that we would celebrate five exciting studies from this year that show promise in improving support and care for patients. Clinical trials are pivotal in helping us understand the causes of diabetes, and to develop treatments accordingly, bringing us closer to a potential cure.
1. Harvard Scientists have developed a revolutionary new treatment for diabetes
Researchers at Harvard University, University of Missouri, and the Georgia Institute of Technology, all US, have proven the successful use of a novel treatment for Type 1 diabetes. The method involves transferring insulin-producing pancreas cells, known as pancreatic islets, from a donor to a recipient, without the need for long-term immunosuppressive medicines. Their method uses technology included in a US patient filed by the University of Louisville and Georgia Tech, and has since been licenced by a commercial company with plans to pursue FDA approval for human testing.
2. Study shows that diabetes linked to malnutrition is metabolically unique
Results from a recent study suggest that individuals with a history of malnutrition suffer from a distinct type of diabetes, characterised by a defect in insulin secretion. The research team studied two groups of South Indian males, and found that their secretion failure may result from decreased beta cell mass. The researchers have posited that studying this unique form of diabetes may also improve how it is treated.
3. Portsmouth University trial to help diabetics lose weight in their sleep
Researchers at the University of Portsmouth are kickstarting a trial that will see if breathing lower amounts of oxygen (hypoxia) improves blood glucose levels. Past evidence has shown that hypoxia can reduce appetite and burn more calories in people with Type 2 diabetes. The scientists are currently looking for volunteers to investigate if sleeping in a special tent, with a lower oxygen environment, is effective at improving blood glucose control and promoting weight loss.
4. Vertex releases new data on potential cure for Type 1 diabetes
Vertex first unveiled their cell therapy, VX-880, in 2021. The treatment means that while recipients would technically still have a diagnosis of Type 1 diabetes, they may not require insulin to manage their glucose levels. In the first phase of this trial, participants were given half the expected dose of VX-880, and this dose was increased as the trial progressed. Patients with Type 1 diabetes showed an astonishing improvement in reduction of insulin dose. The FDA is currently asking for more information to support the increasing of beta cells as a treatment for diabetes, but Vertex is hoping to resolve this issue as soon as possible so they can expand their clinical trial.
5. Epigenetic markers predict complications in patients with Type 2 diabetes
A new study from Lund University, Sweden, supports the notion that patients with Type 2 diabetes should be divided into subgroups and given individualised treatment, as there are distinct epigenetic differences between groups of patients with Type 2 diabetes. An epigenetic biomarker that can predict complications at an early stage makes preventative actions more feasible. The authors now need to verify their results in other population-based cohorts.