Diabetes is one of the most endemic and life threatening diseases. 220 million people worldwide are afflicted by it with 1 million each year succumbing to it. India is known as the diabetes capital of the world with 50 million people under the diabetes net.
What is Diabetes?
Diabetes mellitus – simply known as Diabetes – is a condition in which a person has high blood sugar levels. It’s either due to lack of insulin produced by the body or it arises when cells stop responding to the insulin that is being produced.
It is mainly of three types:
1.) Type 1 Diabetes: It results from the body’s failure to produce insulin and the sufferer requires insulin shots to help combat insulin deficiency. 5% of all Diabetics suffer from Type 1 Diabetes.
2.) Type 2 Diabetes: Cells become insulin resistant and stop reacting to the insulin produced by the body. As a result, blood sugar does not get into cells to be stored for energy. Around 95% of all Diabetics suffer from Type 2 Diabetes.
3.) Type 3 Diabetes: It is also known as Double or Hybrid diabetes. Still a lot needs to be known about Type 3 but recent developments have linked it to the reduction of protein or insulin produced from brain cells. Furthermore, Alzheimer’s link is being established in some studies conducted by a team of researchers in Indianapolis.
Diabetes was always considered to be a disease that affected the aged but due to lifestyle changes and lack of proper attention given to health by urban population, teenagers and kids, as young as 6, have been gripped by diabetes.
Two medical breakthroughs in the past month have attracted attention worldwide. First came in last month, end of June, about a drug developed by Flinders Medical Centre Researchers, in Australia, and the second from New Delhi, on July 13, 2010 about an insulin shot which has a longer life span.
Yes, that is the name of the drug which has given a hope worldwide in curbing Type 2 diabetes. Recent findings released by Bristol-Myers Squibb and Astra Zeneca PLC show highly significant reductions in levels of A1C, a commonly used blood sugar measure, on patients who are in the formative stage of Type 2 and also on the patients whose disease had progressed to the point where they required insulin shots.
The drug belongs to a new class of treatment called Sodium-Glucose transporter- inhibitor. It uses the methodology of blocking the SGLT2 protein, thereby increasing the amount of glucose excreted in the urine. This also helps in weight reduction, since one of the primary requirements for Type 2 patients is weight loss.
Study was conducted over a 24 week period. Patients were divided in to groups with once a day doses of 2.5 mg, 5 mg, 10 mg and a placebo. 0.75 percent of A1C was seen at lowest level of dose, 0.82 percent at 5 mg, 0.9 percent at 10 mg and 0.3 percent in the placebo group.
An off shoot benefit of the drug was the reduction in weight as calories were excreted. 0.98 kgs were found reduced, on an average, after 24 weeks on the two lower doses. 1.67 kgs with 10 mg with placebo showing slight weight gain.
Also it showed small decrease in the Blood Pressure levels, an ameliorating side effect.
But some signs of Urinary tract infection were seen, as also is the case with other drugs of same class. But number of patients who opted out of the treatment was a minuscule 1 percent in each group.
Now, the next step is the advance testing and researchers are looking to administer the drug on men aged above 45 and women aged above 50, who are suffering from Type 2 Diabetes.
People who suffer from Type 1 Diabetes (also 20 to 30 percent of Type 2 diabetes patients) need to take Insulin injections once or twice a day, the best insulin shot having its effect for 18 hours.
Pain, no more! Now, a team of Indian scientists have discovered a new form of Insulin that could aid in drastically reducing blood sugar of diabetics. Developed by National Immunology Institute (NII), New Delhi, it is called Supramolecular Insulin Assembly – II (SIA-II). It took around 2 million and two years for the scientists to come up with this super insulin. Researchers treated natural human insulin at varying chemical and temperature conditions and one such combination produced insulin.
Diabetes Foundation (India) Chairman, Anoop Misra, hailed the new breakthrough and said it was an exciting development. Conducted so far on rats, the team could control sugar levels by giving a syringe shot once in a 3 month period.
They have patented the technology, commercialised it and have licensed it to Life Science Pharmaceuticals in Connecticut.
Next up is trials to be conducted on human beings and, if all goes according to plans, the drug would be available in the market soon.
Diabetes is one of the most dreaded diseases plaguing the world and recent developments will go a long way in curbing it and bringing the numbers, affected by it, down drastically.
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