New treatment for type 2 diabetes
Cases of Type 2 Diabetes have been increasing steadily over the last thirty years and are showing no signs of slowing down. Since 1980, the number of cases in the US alone has risen from 5.5 million cases to 21.3 million in 2012. In the UK it is estimated that by 2025, over 5 million people will have diabetes, 90 percent of which will likely be Type 2.
While genetics play a role in who is susceptible and who isn’t, obesity and weight gain are significant factors in whether or not a person will ultimately suffer from the condition. Body fat levels can cause hormonal changes that impair the effectiveness of insulin and glucose metabolism; this leads to hypoglycaemia (low blood sugar), hyperglycemia (high blood sugar) and other symptoms and complications of diabetes.
Gastric Bypass Surgery
A common treatment for obese patients, which also has a significant impact in reducing Type 2 diabetes, is gastric bypass surgery. This is a procedure in which a significant portion of the stomach is blocked off, effectively reducing its capacity. The same is done to the small intestine. Reducing the stomach’s capacity has the effect of a patient reaching satiety sooner, being physically unable to take on large portions and also limiting the amount of time food spends in the gut, thus reducing the amount of nutrients absorbed. The net result is weight loss and subsequently, in approximately 84 percent of cases, a reduction in symptoms of Type 2 diabetes.
While certainly effective; gastric bypass surgery brings with it all of the risks and complications that invasive surgery inevitably carries. Doctors are also not entirely convinced that weight loss is the sole means of reversing Type 2 diabetes in patients.
A pill to mimic the effects of surgery
Researchers from the Centre for Weight Management and Metabolic Surgery at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, think that they may have found a viable alternative in the form of a pill that coats the lining of the small intestine, reducing its capacity for uptake of nutrients and effectively mimicking the effects of gastric bypass surgery.
Based on the already FDA-approved drug sucralfate, the team have created a compound called Luminal Coating of the Intestine (LuCI). In tests with rats, LuCI has been effective in lowering after-meal glucose response by 47 percent. If trials with diabetic and obese rats go similarly well, it is hoped that LuCI could ultimately replace the need for gastric bypass surgery, as it relates to reversing Type 2 diabetes.
Pharma development in the UK
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