Replacing humans with computers could make patients better control their sugar levels and suffer less complications in the long term. The French company Cellnovo has already shown that just a partially automated system, where blood sugar levels can be monitored wirelessly but patients still select insulin amounts, can reduce the chances of reaching life-threatening low sugar levels up to 39%. The company is now working towards developing a fully automated artificial pancreas in collaboration with Imperial College, the Diabeloop consortium and the Horizon2020 program.
Some people who have type 2 diabetes can achieve their target blood sugar levels with diet and exercise alone, but many also need diabetes medications or insulin therapy. The decision about which medications are best depends on many factors, including your blood sugar level and any other health problems you have. Your doctor might even combine drugs from different classes to help you control your blood sugar in several different ways.
The first thing to understand when it comes to treating diabetes is your blood glucose level, which is the amount of glucose in the blood. Glucose is a sugar that comes from the foods we eat and also is formed and stored inside the body. It's the main source of energy for the cells of the body, and is carried to them through the blood. Glucose gets into the cells with the help of the hormone insulin.
In type 1 diabetes, the body produces none of the insulin that regulates our blood sugar levels. Very high glucose levels can damage the body's organs. Patients with type 2 diabetes, however, do produce insulin - just not enough to keep their glucose levels normal. Because I was fit and not overweight (obesity is a major risk factor in type 2 diabetes; however, a number of non-obese people, particularly members of south Asian communities, are also prone to it), my doctor told me I could control my condition with diet alone.
Meanwhile, American Diabetes Scientist Zhen Gu, PhD, a professor in the Joint University of North Carolina/North Carolina State University Department of Biomedical Engineering, is working to develop a “smart insulin” patch that imitates the body's beta cells by both sensing blood glucose levels and releasing insulin using a nanotechnology that leverages bioengineering, biochemistry and materials science.
Keep your immunizations up to date. High blood sugar can weaken your immune system. Get a flu shot every year, and your doctor will likely recommend the pneumonia vaccine, as well. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) also recommends the hepatitis B vaccination if you haven't previously received this vaccine and you're an adult age 19 to 59 with type 1 or type 2 diabetes. The CDC advises vaccination as soon as possible after diagnosis with type 1 or type 2 diabetes. If you are age 60 or older, have diabetes and haven't previously received the vaccine, talk to your doctor about whether it's right for you.
Herbal prescriptions for diabetes are formulated or prescribed based on the patient’s predominant symptoms. For instance, a patient presenting primarily with excessive thirst (lung Yin deficiency) might be given a single herb, such as radix panacis quinquefolii; or a combination of herbs in a patent formulation such as yu chuan wan, which is used in general to treat diabetes of mild to moderate severity and specifically to treat excessive thirst due to Yin deficiency,12 and ba wei di huang tang (“eight-ingredient pill with rehmannia”), which was originally used to treat people exhibiting weakness, fatigue, and copious urine soon after drinking water.13
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Pancreatic islet allo-transplantation is a procedure in which islets from the pancreas of a deceased oran donor are purified, processed, and transferred into another person. Immunosuppressive medications are needed to prevent rejection which is a typical challenge with any transplant. These medications carry a number of serious side effects such as decreased kidney function, high blood pressure, anemia and lowered white blood cells counts.
The three main types of nutrients found in foods are carbohydrates (or carbs), proteins, and fats, which all provide energy in the form of calories. Foods containing carbs cause blood sugar levels to go up the most. Foods that contain mostly protein and/or fat don't affect blood sugar levels as much. Our bodies need all of these nutrients — in different amounts — to function normally.
Henry Cole, 67, from New Jersey, USA, did likewise. He saw a 20-second news clip on TV and took up the diet days later. He stuck rigidly to 600 calories daily from just protein (steak, chicken, turkey or fish) plus green veg, eating his one meal at 6pm most days, with coffee and calorie-counted cream for breakfast and 1.5 litres of water. His weight went down from 81kg to a stable 70kg on a now daily 1,500 cal diet, with his HbA1c level down to 5.6% from 6.9%.
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Type 2 diabetes, the most common type, can start when the body doesn't use insulin as it should. If your body can't keep up with the need for insulin, you may need to take pills. Along with meal planning and physical activity, diabetes pills help people with type 2 diabetes or gestational diabetes keep their blood glucose levels on target. Several kinds of pills are available. Each works in a different way. Many people take two or three kinds of pills. Some people take combination pills. Combination pills contain two kinds of diabetes medicine in one tablet. Some people take pills and insulin.
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In investigating how BCG administration produces its beneficial effects, the research team identified a mechanism never previously seen in humans in response to treatment with any drug – a shifting of the process of glucose metabolism from oxidative phosphorylation, the most common pathway by which cells convert glucose into energy, to aerobic glycolysis, a process that involves significantly greater glucose consumption by cells. The researchers also found that BCG could reduce blood sugar elevations in mice that were caused by means other than autoimmune attack, raising the possibility that BCG vaccines could also be beneficial against type 2 diabetes.”
Type 2 diabetes, although influenced by a person’s genes, is largely thought to be brought about by a poor diet and being overweight for prolonged periods of time, particularly at an old age. The pancreas is either unable to produce enough insulin, or the body’s cells simply don’t react to insulin, which leads to dangerously high blood sugar levels.
Chronic exposure of β-cells to triacylglycerol or fatty acids either in vitro or in vivo decreases β-cell capacity to respond to an acute increase in glucose levels (57,58). This concept is far from new (59,60), but the observations of what happens during reversal of diabetes provide a new perspective. β-Cells avidly import fatty acids through the CD36 transporter (24,61) and respond to increased fatty acid supply by storing the excess as triacylglycerol (62). The cellular process of insulin secretion in response to an increase in glucose supply depends on ATP generation by glucose oxidation. However, in the context of an oversupply of fatty acids, such chronic nutrient surfeit prevents further increases in ATP production. Increased fatty acid availability inhibits both pyruvate cycling, which is normally increased during an acute increase in glucose availability, and pyruvate dehydrogenase activity, the major rate-limiting enzyme of glucose oxidation (63). Fatty acids have been shown to inhibit β-cell proliferation in vitro by induction of the cell cycle inhibitors p16 and p18, and this effect is magnified by increased glucose concentration (64). This antiproliferative effect is specifically prevented by small interfering RNA knockdown of the inhibitors. In the Zucker diabetic fatty rat, a genetic model of spontaneous type 2 diabetes, the onset of hyperglycemia is preceded by a rapid increase in pancreatic fat (58). It is particularly noteworthy that the onset of diabetes in this genetic model is completely preventable by restriction of food intake (65), illustrating the interaction between genetic susceptibility and environmental factors.
Chromium plays a vital role in binding to and activating the insulin receptor on body cells, reducing insulin resistance. Supplemental chromium has been shown to lower blood sugar levels, lipids, A1C, and insulin in diabetic patients. It can also help decrease one’s appetite, particularly for sweets. A dosage from 200 mcg to 2,000 mcg a day is safe. Higher doses are unnecessary and can cause acute kidney failure.
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The earliest oral diabetes drugs were the sulfonylureas. These work by stimulating the pancreas to produce more insulin. The oldest of these drugs still on the market is chlorpropamide (Diabinese), which has been used for more than 50 years. The second-generation sulfonylureas are taken once or twice a day. They include glipizide (Glucotrol, Glucotrol XL), glyburide (Micronase, DiaBeta, Glynase), and glimepiride (Amaryl).
A: Fasting plasma glucose and weight change 2 years after randomization either to gastric banding or to intensive medical therapy for weight loss and glucose control. Data plotted with permission from Dixon et al. (13). B: Early changes in fasting plasma glucose level following pancreatoduodenal bypass surgery. A decrease into the normal range was seen within 7 days. Reproduced with permission from Taylor (98).
Type 2 diabetes has long been known to progress despite glucose-lowering treatment, with 50% of individuals requiring insulin therapy within 10 years (1). This seemingly inexorable deterioration in control has been interpreted to mean that the condition is treatable but not curable. Clinical guidelines recognize this deterioration with algorithms of sequential addition of therapies. Insulin resistance and β-cell dysfunction are known to be the major pathophysiologic factors driving type 2 diabetes; however, these factors come into play with very different time courses. Insulin resistance in muscle is the earliest detectable abnormality of type 2 diabetes (2). In contrast, changes in insulin secretion determine both the onset of hyperglycemia and the progression toward insulin therapy (3,4). The etiology of each of these two major factors appears to be distinct. Insulin resistance may be caused by an insulin signaling defect (5), glucose transporter defect (6), or lipotoxicity (7), and β-cell dysfunction is postulated to be caused by amyloid deposition in the islets (8), oxidative stress (9), excess fatty acid (10), or lack of incretin effect (11). The demonstration of reversibility of type 2 diabetes offers the opportunity to evaluate the time sequence of pathophysiologic events during return to normal glucose metabolism and, hence, to unraveling the etiology.
Each day, researchers all over the world are working to find a cure for diabetes, and many advances have made treatment easier and more effective. Insulin might soon be available in patch and spray forms, and scientists continue efforts to improve results of pancreas or islet cell transplants. Versions of an "artificial pancreas" — a device that senses blood sugar continuously and gives insulin directly based on the blood sugar level — also are being tested.
The thin silicon patch – about the size of a penny – includes more than 100 microneedles, each the size of an eyelash. “The microneedles are loaded with enzymes that are able to sense blood glucose levels and trigger rapid release of insulin into the blood stream in response to high glucose,” according to the American Diabetes Association. “Dr. Gu and his colleagues have tested this technology in a mouse model of type 1 diabetes where it was able to effectively lower blood glucose levels for up to nine hours – a promising result that sets up additional pre-clinical tests (in animals) and, hopefully, eventual clinical trials (in humans).”
On day four, my glucose levels had dropped to 4.6 after fasting for 10 hours overnight. It was the first time I'd ever scored a 4. But on day six, I felt really cold. It was mid-July but in the morning my fingertips were white and I had to wear a T-shirt, shirt, jumper and jacket to work. I was hungry, and just walking around the office was tiring. But I was down to 9st 3lb.
Currently, no fully artificial pancreas system has been approved by the FDA for use in the U.S. The most advanced product on the market in the USA is currently Medtronic’s MiniMed system which can automatically suspend insulin delivery when it detects low blood sugars. The next generation of their system will anticipate low blood sugars and stop insulin delivery in advance.
Curcumin is a bright yellow chemical produced by the spice turmeric, among other plants. Curcumin seems to have multiple benefits for diabetes symptoms. It has been shown to be a marked inhibitor of reactive oxygen species that promote oxidation damage in cells. Curcumin lowers inflammatory chemicals like tumor necrosis factor-alpha, and that’s good because TNF-a causes insulin resistance and irritates fatty livers. Curcumin can reduce another pro-inflammatory chemical called NF-KB. The above-mentioned actions provide a benefit in diabetes protection and reduce the risk of developing diabetes symptoms and complications. Curcumin has also been shown to enhance pancreatic beta cell functioning and reduce fatty liver deposition. It reduces high blood sugar, A1C, and insulin resistance. It was also shown to reduce the onset of Alzheimer’s disease, and that is a higher risk in diabetic patients than in nondiabetic patients. A good dose is 200 to 3,000 mg a day.
The bionic pancreas is another project from Boston University and Massachusetts General Hospital in a joint effort to create a bionic pancreas, a type of artificial pancreas which not only includes insulin but also glucagon to raise blood sugar. The system is intended to use an algorithm that checks every 5 minutes to calculate the amount of insulin or glucagon needed. The project has recently formed into a public benefit corporation called Beta Bionics. This newer structure allows it to serve not just shareholders, but also the public good. Beta Bionics also became the first American company to raise over a $1 million from small investors under new public investing rules!
That is the goal of Imcyse, a French company running a clinical trial with an immunotherapy designed to stop type 1 diabetes. Patients that have been diagnosed within the last 6 months, who still retain some insulin-producing cells, are given a treatment designed to make the immune system destroy the specific immune cells that are attacking insulin-producing cells. Results are expected later this year and will reveal whether the treatment has the potential to become a cure.