The Year Ahead in Diabetes

Few diseases inspire as much research as diabetes. New treatments are coming all the time. What are we likely to see in diabetes in 2016?

Drug news
Most of the billions of dollars in research money goes to drugs. Nearly 300 million people worldwide have diabetes, and over a dozen ways to medicate diabetes have been discovered, so the market for new drugs is huge.

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PhRMA (Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America) boasted a year ago that 180 new drugs are in development for diabetes. There are over 200 clinical trials of diabetes drugs underway in the U.S. right now.

According to PhRMA, drugs under research include a treatment to regrow insulin-producing cells. This genetic treatment will likely be very expensive, but could be a near-cure if it works.

Most of the new drugs being tested are improved versions of existing drugs or combinations of them. New DPP-4 inhibitors may help the body produce insulin. They raise levels of hormones called “incretins” that help the pancreas respond to glucose. A delayed-release metformin drug will work in the gut to lower blood sugar levels.

Various drug combinations are being tested. These drugs have the benefit of reducing the number of pills a person takes. They also have the serious disadvantage of moving generic drugs back on to a patent, so they will cost way more.

One interesting combination mixes basal insulin with an injectable incretin drug. Basal insulin works all the time and so can reduce fasting blood sugars. Incretins remind the body to produce insulin if glucose is present, and so reduce after-meal spikes. Together they may provide good control without the need for rapid-acting insulin. The two drugs are given together in a single pen.

A cool new drug is a glucagon nasal spray to reverse hypoglycemia (low blood sugars). Glucagon raises your blood glucose much faster than sucking on candy, but it requires a large injection. The nasal spray will be faster, safer, and more convenient. It should be out in 2016.

New equipment
Insulin pumps are becoming smarter and more stylish. New ones resemble smart phones and use similar touch screen technology. Dexcom, Abbott, Medtronic and other companies have new pumps, new continuous monitors, and better sensors under development or under review by the FDA.

Read more about new equipment here.

Conferences
Diabetes conferences for scientists, health professionals, and patients happen monthly. Here are a few of them.

The American Diabetes Association scientific sessions will be in New Orleans June 10–14. Other professional and scientific congresses happen all over the world, and you can see a list of them here. I’m looking forward to one in September in Beijing on herbal treatments of diabetes. That would be fun to go to, but I probably can’t. I’ll be reporting on what happens there anyway.

Taking Control of Your Diabetes (TCOYD) will hold a series of conferences for people with diabetes and their families. Get diabetes education in a supportive, family-inclusive atmosphere. Locations range from Anchorage, Alaska, to Orlando, Florida, and take place from February to November. Learn more here.

Researching a cure
Some scientists have not given up on curing or preventing Type 1. The Diabetes Research Institute is still working on their islet cell transplant BioHub.

The company Perle Science is studying a two-drug combo against Type 1. One of the drugs is the antacid omeprazole, which seems to encourage beta cell growth.

An exciting study at Harvard found that a naturally occurring bile salt called tauroursodeoxycholic acid (TUDCA), seems to protect beta cells from immune system attack. This is a potential way to prevent Type 1 diabetes.

Lead researcher Gokhan S. Hotamisligil said that “the body’s autoimmune response is not enough to cause Type 1 diabetes. There must be something else that makes beta cells susceptible to the attack.” They think the beta cell problem may be that a cell part called “endoplasmic reticulum” or ER, is damaged. TUDCA seems to repair the cells’ ER. Stay tuned.

Self-care still the best care
Diabetes is a huge field, with exciting work being done all over the world. Nothing anyone has come up with, though, outweighs what people with diabetes can do for themselves. Wishing the best results for this research, but there’s no need to wait around. There is already more than enough knowledge about food, medicines, exercise, herbs, stress reduction, and other approaches to give you good control over your sugars and your life. Check out our site and other diabetes websites for ideas and support.

Sending thoughts and prayers to everyone in our community. You are invited to share my New Year’s resolution: Love your body; love your life. Visit my blog The Inn by the Healing Path. Wishing you all a wonderful year in 2016!

What is one of the biggest stumbling blocks to succeeding with your New Year’s resolutions? Scott Coulter shares what he learned during his time as a therapist and his 22 years living with Type 1 diabetes. Bookmark DiabetesSelfManagement.com and tune in tomorrow to learn more.