Diabetes.Latest Research, New Therapies

Scientists had been working hard to find new therapies and better management of diabetes type 1 and 2. Previously considered a  life-threatening condition, diabetes type 1 is now often successfully managed with glucose monitoring and insulin therapy. New classes of drugs for diabetes type 2 had also been approved by the FDA in the last several years. More therapies are underway. This article covers the latest research and new therapies for diabetes. 

Stem cells 

Several laboratories in the US and other countries focused on generating fully functional beta and islet cells that are capable of producing insulin. Thus, this therapy will eliminate the need to use insulin therapy. For example,  implant containing insulin-producing cells created from stem cells by the California based company  ViaCyte are actively under research for diabetes treatment  This is a regenerative medicine company specializing in stem cell-derived cell replacement therapies and its mission is to cure diabetes type 1 and create next-generation therapies for individuals with diabetes type 2 that require insulin. 

Whole pancreas transplant 

A whole pancreas transplant is indicated in some individuals with type I diabetes and end-stage renal disease, and this procedure is typically performed along with a kidney transplant and requires immunosuppressive medication. This therapy is improving long-term benefits as the immunosuppressant drugs evolved over time. The majority of the recipients no longer require insulin after this procedure. 

Both whole pancreas and islet transplants carry risks and not everyone is a good candidate for these procedures. Doctors look at both benefits and risks before  They are both associated with similar costs.

Islet cell replacement therapy 

Transplantation of isolated islets from the pancreas offers a gentler alternative to whole pancreas transplantation. This therapy is not widely used, as there are a very limited number of pancreatic islets available for transplantation. More research is also to improve long-term success – or insulin independence. Using research from the Melton Lab, Vertex Pharmaceuticals, scientists from the Harvard Stem Cell Institute created  VX-880, a stem cell-derived, fully differentiated pancreatic islet cell replacement therapy for individuals with type 1 diabetes (T1D). Used along with immunosuppressant medication, VX-880 use led to the restoration of the islet cell function after 3 months in the first patient in phase 1 /2 clinical trial, according to an October 2021 press release from Harvard. This therapy is still in the experimental phase, but the results look promising. 

New technologies 

  • Regular  needles may be soon replaced with lasers to monitor blood sugar levels. These noninvasive devices had been  developed by scientists at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. These devices  shine a laser  on the skin, and use  spectroscopy to monitor blood glucose levels. 
  • A wearable ultrasound patch designed to monitor blood pressure.  This newly designed patch measures the blood pressure and may detect heart problems. Since individuals with diabetes are more likely to have high blood pressure and heart complications, this new tool can be very helpful to monitor cardiovascular health. The patch emits ultrasound waves, recording the diameter of a blood vessel.

Alternative/complementary Therapies 

Hispidulin and sulforaphane combo.  Researchers from Virginia Polytechnic Institute & State are evaluating low-cost, natural compounds for managing type 2 diabetes. Dr. Liu researches a combination of hispidulin and sulforaphane for diabetes management. He discovered that hispidulin, a key active ingredient from the herb Salvia plebeia, promotes pancreatic beta-cell functions and ameliorates diabetes. Another natural compound from cruciferous vegetables, sulforaphane is a potent molecule that boosts insulin sensitivity, based on animal models of diabetes type 2.  

Honey-embedded wound dressings. Honey has a long history of use for its wound healing and antibacterial effects. has been used for centuries as a complementary treatment for wound healing; however, it is sticky and difficult to apply on the skin. Dr. Shornick from Saint Louis University studies an innovative three-dimensional wound dressing based on manuka honey from New Zealand, This variety of honey has been well researched and has strong antibacterial effects. The wound dressing offers a  special structure for cells to migrate into the wound and heal the tissue, and honey offers anti-bacterial protection and promotes regeneration of blood vessels and tissues.  

Vitamin D, other vitamins, and various natural supplements can help improve blood sugar levels and could be a great add-on therapy to diabetes management. For more details, read this article.

In addition to all these new therapies and tools, a number of drugs are currently under research in different phases of studies. Some are “old” drugs used for other conditions that may help manage diabetes, while others are newly created. Scientists believe that artificial intelligence (AI) is the future of diabetes care. There are already digital therapeutics designed to assess lifestyle therapy for diabetes, monitor the symptoms and various biomarkers.  The goal is to use technology to achieve better controls of the blood sugar level, including fasting and after-meal glycemia, as well as the glycosylated hemoglobin Hb1Ac for long-term control of diabetes. Eventually, AI offers a paradigm shift in diabetes care from standard therapies to individualized precision care. 

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *