The word “tsunami” describes a huge wave caused by an underground disturbance. Diabetes falls under that definition in our view. According to a study in Diabetes and Endocrinology, two out of five American adults may develop Type II Diabetes in their lifetime. About 95% of US diabetics are Type II. Type II diabetes occurs due to a condition of insulin resistance. Insulin, a hormone produced in the pancreas, does not have a sufficient effect on blood sugar levels, despite high levels of production in Type II diabetics. Fortunately, thanks to clinical research, surviving this diabetic tsunami should soon become easier. New research breakthroughs may lead diabetes to “dry land.”
For those currently battling diabetes, recent technological breakthroughs may make pricking your finger a thing of the past! Researchers at Arizona State University developed a method of testing glucose through saliva. To use, one simply licks a biosensor strip. The biosensing device then uses an electrochemical analysis to calculate blood glucose levels instantly. The company overseeing the development of this technology hopes to have it on the market in the next few years.
While tracking your blood sugar should become simpler, new ways of taking your diabetes medication may help keep diabetics afloat. Scientists have developed a “smart patch” that contains live pancreatic beta cells. A “smart patch” uses a system of tiny needles – each about the size of an eyelash, to detect high blood glucose levels and automatically inject insulin when needed. The live beta cells used in the newest versions of the smart patch can control rising blood glucose levels for roughly 10 hours at a time. Since the beta cells stay outside of the body on the patch, one’s body should not reject the cells. Current testing has been successful in mice studies, but the patch has yet to be tested on humans. Maybe one day we will seek volunteers for the “smart patch” at all of our seven research sites!
Another interesting diabetes finding comes from researchers at the Ottawa Hospital. Scientists turned from puzzled to amazed when they discovered a bacteria-killing protein in the pancreas. The bacterial-killing protein called cathelicidin antimicrobial peptide (CAMP) is produced by the same cells that produce insulin. Hoping to find a link between CAMP and diabetes, they injected diabetes-prone rats with CAMP. Not only did the rats have a healthier, more regenerated pancreas, but they had an increase in beneficial gut bacteria. CAMP could be a breakthrough in diabetes treatment.
Having diabetes is a big deal, and high sugar levels are themselves often less of a risk than other associated features of diabetes. In fact complications, such as high cholesterol levels and weight gain can be more problematic. High levels of cholesterol increase your risk of having a heart attack or stroke. Weight gain leads to higher blood sugar levels, high blood pressure and arthritis in weight bearing joints. We have several studies which target these complications. Many studies targeting cholesterol are enrolling right now at any of our sites, so if you have diabetes, heart disease, or even just high cholesterol give us a call and we can find the right fit for you! We also have a diabetes study enrolling with a medication that is said to cause weight loss at our Fleming Island, St. Johns, and Inverness offices. The future of diabetes management is looking bright! These research studies and new technologies coming down the pipeline may be just the life raft you’ll need to stay afloat in the diabetic tsunami.