A working group composed of researchers, clinical endocrinologists, and primary-care doctors convened by the Endocrine Society has recommended that greater emphasis be placed on regularly screening people at risk for Type 2 diabetes and promptly and aggressively treating those who have developed the condition in an attempt to preserve beta cell function. Roughly 24 million people in the United States have been diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes, and another 57 million are thought to have prediabetes.
Studies in both humans and animals have indicated that Type 2 diabetes involves dysfunctional beta cells (the insulin-producing pancreatic cells) that are not able to produce enough insulin to overcome increasing insulin resistance, another characteristic of Type 2. This failure of the beta cells appears to occur early in the progression of the disease. However, accumulating evidence indicates that the reduction in beta cell function could be slowed or potentially reversed, particularly if addressed early.
According to Jack L. Leahy, MD, one of the statement’s authors, “There is widespread evidence that the conventional approaches to the management of Type 2 diabetes have been inadequate… The increasing recognition that beta-cell failure occurs much earlier and [more] severely than commonly believed suggests that regular glycemia screening, early identification of patients at metabolic risk, and prompt and aggressive intervention deserves greater emphasis.”
The working group also recommended that researchers initiate studies to determine the usefulness of drug therapies that specifically target beta cell function.
To learn more about the recommendations, see the article “Experts Advocate Realigning Type 2 Diabetes Treatments With Disease’s Natural History” or read the consensus statement’s abstract in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism. And for more information about Type 2 diabetes, click here.