Everything You Need To Know About New Type 2 Diabetes Treatments

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With more of the US population aging, more cases of type 2 diabetes are emerging, and more sufferers are finding themselves less in control of the blood glucose levels. In response to this public health issue, there has been a surge of research and innovation in diabetes care. These range from novel medications and new forms of insulin to innovations in diabetes testing and insulin delivery.

New Medications

Alogliptin is a dipeptidyl peptidase IV inhibitor that works by preventing the breakdown of glucagon-like peptide 1 (GLP-1), a hormone that helps to decreases the presence of glucose in the blood stream. When you eat, your body releases GLP-1, but its effects last only for a few minutes. By maintaining this compound and its presence in the blood stream for a longer period of time, alogliptin helps to stimulate the production and release of additional insulin. Afrezza is a rapid-acting insulin powder that is inhaled rather than injected. It is meant to be administered at meals as a means of helping to exert greater glycemic control during digestion. As an inhalant, it can cause throat irritation and cough. It also runs the risk of causing bronchospasm in type 2 diabetes patients who also suffer from asthma or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. Due to the relatively low dose-per-cartridge ratio, it is more suited to people who have higher sensitivities to insulin and only require a few units per dose.

Alternatives to Insulin

One approach to managing blood sugar is to find new ways of removing glucose from circulation. Proteins in the kidneys called sodium-glucose transporters (SGLTs) retain glucose and keep it in the blood stream. A category of drug called SGLT2 inhibitors stop these proteins from activating, thereby allowing glucose to escape into urine. Canagliflozin is the generic name of one of these SGLT2 inhibitors. In its incarnation as Invokamet, it is combined with metformin. Metformin a widely-used medication given to newly diagnosed patients to decrease glucose production in the liver and improve insulin response in resistant patients. When used together, metformin and canagliflozin offer a more effective means of controlling type 2 diabetes. Empagliflozin is another SGLT2 inhibitor that is safe to use with metformin, insulin and other means of treating diabetes. This drug is particularly promising because of its ability to significantly reduce the risk of cardiovascular death. It also reduces, to a lesser extent, the risk of non-fatal heart attack and non-fatal stroke. This is encouraging news, as people suffering from diabetes are two to four times more likely to develop cardiovascular disease than people who do not have diabetes. There are additional benefits to using SGLT2 inhibitors. Removing glucose through urination has the added benefit of weight loss, since it is eliminating calories. Using SGLT2 inhibitors additionally uses up sodium, which helps to reduce blood pressure. However, the increase of sugar in your urine can lead to yeast infections in women and foreskin infections in uncircumcised men. The drugs also increase the risk of dehydration as well as ketoacidosis, a condition characterized by excessively high levels of acid in the blood. Canagliflozin in particular can lead to decreased bone density, making patients more prone to fractures.

New Technology

Lancets are the implements used to draw blood when testing glucose levels, and Genteel represents a new step in lancet engineering. This new design is able to reach blood capillaries without penetrating far enough to activate pain nerves, which lie deeper beneath the surface of the skin. Moreover, Genteel is able to draw enough blood to be used on other sites on the body, not just on the fingers. Patients have overwhelmingly indicated that they are more satisfied with this new design than the lancets that they have used in the past. Testing technology isn’t the only area that’s undergoing innovation. Insulin pens are a relatively new and increasingly common popular option for delivering insulin, at least amongst diabetics living in the United States. These pens are easy to transport and can be adjusted to deliver exactly the right number of units of insulin, making overdosing or underdosing a worry of the past. Each pen is proprietary and tailored to be used only with specific, brand-name insulin and mixes. The devices often include features like distinctive colors and uniquely shaped or textured delivery knobs; this is helpful for people who require multiple different types of insulin, as it  can prevent them from accidentally dosing with the wrong one. Some pens also offer other perks like digital readouts, dose tracking and spring-loaded delivery triggers. These devices are often available in disposable form, but there are also reusable versions that can be reloaded with new insulin cartridges Even now, 475 new drugs are currently in production with the goal of more adequately treating diabetes. Among them are DDP-4 inhibitors, which only require a once-weekly dosage. They, like alogliptin, prevent GLP-1 from breaking down. Additionally, an enzyme called low molecular weight protein tyrosine phosphate has also been seen to eliminate insulin resistance in rodents, effectively curing them of their type 2 diabetes. As medical research into diabetes continues apace, the prognosis for patients continues to become more and more optimistic.