What You Should Know About New Type 2 Diabetes Treatments

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More cases of type 2 diabetes are emerging in the United States as more of the population ages and finds themselves suffering from out-of-control blood glucose levels. Luckily, a new wave of research and advancement in diabetes care has met this widespread health hazard head-on. New medications, new forms of insulin as well as novel means of testing blood glucose and insulin delivery are all appearing as a result.

Innovative Drugs

Anyone who prefers to not inject insulin may want to try Afrezza, which is a rapidly acting insulin in powder form. It is inhaled rather than administered through a syringe, pump or pen. Taken with meals, it helps to maintain better glycemic control during short and long-term digestion. It is not recommended for patients who also suffer from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease or from asthma, as it can irritate the throat and induce coughing. Afrezza comes in cartridges containing relatively few doses compared to other insulin delivery methods, and so it is most effective for sufferers with high sensitivities to insulin. The dipeptidyl peptidase IV inhibitor called Alogliptin prevents the breakdown of the hormone glucagon-like peptide 1 (GLP-1), which works to eliminate glucose in the blood stream. Your body releases GLP-1 whenever you consume food, but the hormone only works for a few minutes. Alogliptin preserves and extends the compound’s presence in the blood stream, thereby stimulating the pancreas to produce and release more insulin.

Technological Advances

When diabetics draw blood to test their glucose levels, they use a small, sharp tool called a lancet. A new, innovative brand of lancet called Genteel has been engineered to reach blood capillaries in the skin but not to penetrate deep enough to stimulate the nerves that signal pain. Despite its small size, Genteel is able to draw blood not only from the fingertips but from other sites on the body where traditional lancets are ineffective. Patients report that Genteel effectively reduces the pain of glucose testing. Beyond glucose testing, diabetes patients are also enjoying improvements in insulin delivery methods. One of these is the insulin pen, which is widespread in Europe and is becoming increasingly popular in the United States. Contra syringes and vials, insulin pens are compact, portable and they deliver exactly the right dose of insulin, foreclosing on the dangers of injecting too much or too little via syringe. However, insulin pens are designed to be used only with specific types and brands of insulin, but they typically feature distinctive coloration, shapes and textures to help users ensure that they are administering the correct insulin type. Various pens offer different bells and whistles, such as digital readouts, dose trackers and spring-loaded delivery knobs to reduce the effort of administering insulin. Many pens are available in disposable form, but there are also reusable models that can be refilled by inserting new insulin cartridges.

Alternatives to Insulin

As opposed to increasing insulin levels in the blood stream, some researchers are seeking creative methods of removing glucose from the blood stream. One way of doing this is by manipulating sodium-glucose transporters (SGLTs), which are proteins in the kidneys that trap glucose molecules and keep them in circulation. SGLT2 inhibitors are a type of drug that keeps these proteins inactive, thereby allowing the body to expel glucose through urine. One of these SGLT2 inhibitors goes by the generic name canagliflozin. In Invokamet, canagliflozin is combined with metformin, a common medication used to decrease glucose production in newly diagnosed patients and to increase response in patients who are insulin resistant. By combining these two approaches, Invokament provides an efficient, two-pronged approach to diabetes management. Another SGLT2 inhibitor called Empagliflozin can also be safely used with other diabetes medications. Empagliflozin has the added benefit of substantially decreasing the risk of cardiovascular death in diabetes sufferers, and it is also known to lower the risk of non-fatal strokes and heart attacks. Since diabetes sufferers are two to four times more likely to experience cardiovascular disease than the rest of the population, this drug holds out particular promise of allowing diabetes patients to live more normal and healthy lives. Beyond managing glucose levels, SGLT2 inhibitors may provide other health benefits. Letting glucose escape the body through urine reduces the number of calories our bodies metabolize, and so is helpful in losing weight, which is an important aspect of diabetes management. Moreover, SGLT2 inhibitors also use up sodium, which will help diabetics reduce their blood pressure. As you read this, researchers and manufacturers are developing nearly 500 new drugs with the goal of providing better treatment for people suffering from diabetes. Some of these aim at reducing the frequency with which patients must take medication, while others are targeting insulin resistance with the goal of curing type 2 diabetes entirely. As diabetes becomes more widespread and more scientific attention is devoted to the disease, such innovations provide new hope for people afflicted with diabetes.