What’s Fresh in Diabetes Research


Sugarbreak Editorial

What are some of the latest updates, greatest developments and newest happenings in diabetes research? Below we break down some of the most promising things on deck in the search for a cure for type 1 and type 2 diabetes. With over 422 million people diagnosed with diabetes worldwide, researchers and scientists are pushing the boundaries of innovation and thought, integrating “holistic” approaches, and doing the work so that, one day, day-to-day management tools like us won’t even have to exist. 

For Type 1 Diabetes

Cell Therapy - Probably one of the most promising opportunities out there for curing type 1 diabetes, cell therapy works to replace the missing insulin-producing cells in your body. Why? So that your body can potentially recover its ability to produce insulin. This is being done with transplanted pancreatic cells, but one of the major obstacles is the body’s rejection of the transplanted cells. In response, DRIF has been working on a bioengineered mini organ that can produce insulin. In Belgium, Orgenesis is actually going a step further and transforming patient’s liver cells into insulin-producing cells, making the lack of pancreatic donors less of an issue. 

The Takeaway: While cell therapy is promising, it’s far away from common use and potentially too  expensive to be realistic in the near term. 

Immunotherapy - In type 1 diabetes, insulin-producing cells are destroyed by the immune system and the theory is that if we can stop the destruction of insulin-producing cells early enough, we can prevent its progression to type 1 diabetes. By using immunotherapy to target and kill the immune cells that attack the pancreas (and destroy the insulin-producing cells), we can stop it before it starts. Right now, immunotherapy options are in the clinical testing phase in both France and Belgium. 

The Takeaway: We’re a few years off, but immunotherapy looks promising.

Automated Treatment with an Artificial Pancreas -  This is where computers come in. For a lot of individuals with diabetes, they’ve already lost their insulin-producing cells, making other treatments unviable solutions. For those individuals, a fully automated pancreas could take the place of the natural pancreas. This automated organ would use a computer algorithm to continuously measure glucose levels, in real time, while administering insulin as needed. 

The Takeaway: It all really comes down to getting the algorithm correct and making sure computers are responsive enough and the insulin used acts fast enough.  

Type 2 Diabetes

Lifestyle Interventions -  Data from a DiRECT trial focusing on lifestyle interventions (diet and exercise) showed the impact of a low calorie diet (800-900 calories/day) on remission rates for type 2 diabetes. In the study, “remission” was defined as an A1C below 6.5% and stopping all diabetes medication. 

The Takeaway:  At 1 year, the intervention group on a low calorie diet was at 46% remission and the control group was at 4% remission. At 2 years, the intervention group had 36% remission and the control group 3%.

Microbiome - Linked to several chronic diseases, the microbiome is an integral part of a healthy, balanced body. For individuals with diabetes, the gut’s microbiome is usually less diverse, resulting in insulin resistance for obsese patients with type 2 diabetes. While research continues regarding type 1 diabetes autoimmunity and the microbiome, the general consensus is a dietary approach that supports the bacteria and other micro-organisms living in the human digestive tract.

The Takeaway: Still in preclinical testing, a French company called Valviotis is targeting the microbiome with treatment options, but its innate complexity makes it a hard nut to crack. 

No More Needles -  A number of companies have developed non-invasive solutions for blood glucose testing that do not require needles. Integrity Applications has developed a tool called GlucoTrack that uses electromagnetic waves, and GlucoSense uses a laser to test their blood glucose levels. Other options are patches for monitoring and even an under the eyelid device.

The Takeaway: Non-invasive options are out there and are readily available now. The biggest question when it comes to non-invasive solutions is the question of accuracy in their reporting.

This roundup is just a small portion of the most recent advancements happening in diabetes research right now. We aren’t joking when we say we genuinely hope there’s a day when people don’t need day-to-day management solutions for diabetes because we’ve finally found a cure. Until then, we’re happy to help make self-management a little easier, safer, and more affordable with scientifically-backed, natural, and measurable products that can give you peace of mind for when you need them most. 

For more information on what’s happening in the world of diabetes research, you can read up on The Biggest News in Diabetes Research and This Week in Diabetes Research and so many other sites, just make sure to check your sources.