For people with diabetes, finding a cure for their illness will be a most welcome development. All over the globe, millions of people are living with diabetes and carry the risk of developing complications, especially those whose blood glucose levels are not well-managed.
Is there a cure for type 2 diabetes? Medical progress towards a diabetes cure has been slowly advancing in the last few years. Researchers are now exploring “possibilities” that can cure or prevent type 2 diabetes.
Types of Treatments for Type 2 Diabetes
Before discussing the medical progress in finding a cure for type 2 diabetes, let us first take up the different approaches to treating the illness. These treatments are focused on treating or managing diabetes.
- Non-drug therapy – Diet and exercise are the pillars of diabetes treatment. Studies show that even a slight reduction in weight can hinder the progression of the disease. The diet can be tailored for specific medical conditions.
For instance, an obese individual should cut down intake of fatty foods. A person with kidney disease should limit consumption of protein because it can overwork the kidneys. Those with heart problems need to avoid saturated fats.
- Oral Medications – Metformin is an oral diabetic drug which helps control blood sugar levels. It is sometimes used together with insulin. Canagliflozin is a relatively new drug approved for treating type 2 diabetes. In clinical trials, it was shown to lower HbA1C levels (average blood sugar levels over a period of weeks or months).
- Insulin – Insulin injections are used to replace the insulin normally produced by the body. They work by moving sugar from the blood into other tissues in the body. They also inhibit the liver from producing sugar.
All insulin injections work this way. The differences are in how fast they begin to work and how long they work in controlling blood sugar.
- Bariatric surgery – If all other treatments fail, a doctor may recommend bariatric (weight loss) surgery. This procedure is done by removing a portion of the stomach or using a gastric band. It is usually performed on obese people with a body mass index (BMI) of 40 or higher.
There are two types of bariatric surgery. The first is restrictive; it reduces the size of the stomach. After surgery, the stomach can only hold about one cup of food, so a person feels full quickly. The other type is malabsorptive; it decreases the absorption of calories into the stomach.
Racing for a Cure for Type 2 Diabetes
Some researchers are focusing on the theory that inflammation of the pancreas has something to do with the development of diabetes. Clinical trials are now being made to test the effectivity of anti-inflammatory drugs in humans to see if they can lower the incidence of type 2 diabetes.
The islets of Langerhans are a cluster of cells in the pancreas that contain beta cells which produce the hormone insulin. Diabetes researchers are trying to understand the cause why these islets malfunction, triggering a chain reaction that causes type 2 diabetes.
Some people cannot keep up with the increased demand for insulin, thus elevating their blood glucose levels. The focus in this area of treatment is to improve the compensation mechanism of the pancreas to prevent type 2 diabetes.
Focus on Preventing Complications
High blood sugar levels can damage the blood vessels in the heart, eyes, and kidneys. There has been some progress in the development of new drugs that aims to counteract the effects of diabetes on these vital organs.
A drug has shown promise in blocking a form of enzyme involved in the signaling pathway of molecules. Studies are also being made about the genetic changes in persons with diabetes which make them susceptible to cardiovascular diseases.
Progress is being made in understanding the science behind type 2 diabetes. Findings from medical research are now being used to develop new treatments.
We know for a fact that human intelligence continuously builds on knowledge presently available and improves it to make a “better version.” The success of these future treatments will have a huge impact on millions of people worldwide affected by diabetes mellitus.
Another treatment for both types of diabetes that is being explored is a “probiotic pill” – a pill which contains live bacteria. Researchers conducted experiments, and the initial findings show that the pill has the potential to transfer the control of glucose levels in the body from the pancreas to the upper intestine.
Lactobacillus- a bacteria found in the intestine, is being engineered to secrete peptide (a hormone which releases insulin as a response to food). They are testing the effectiveness of the pill on laboratory subjects, specifically rats with diabetes.
Initial results show that the subjects who were given the probiotic pill for a period 0f 90 days had 30 % lower blood glucose levels compared to those who did not receive the pill. Also, it was discovered that the pill appears to shift glucose control from the pancreas to the upper intestine.
The wonderful thing about probiotics is that it is considered safe by the Food and Drug Administration. After seeing the potential of the pill, the team of researchers is moving into the next phase of the experiment – giving higher doses to see if it can reverse diabetes.
Diet as a Means to Cure Type 2 Diabetes
Another area that is being delved into is the use of diet in treating type 2 diabetes. Utmost care is taken in determining what foods to eat. The effects of changing a person’s diet to cure the illness is being studied.
Some believe that type 2 diabetes is caused by an inflammatory response to certain kinds of saturated fats and trans polyunsaturated fats. The “good fats” are the Omega 3 acids found in fish which have anti-inflammatory properties.
The “bad fats” are Omega 6 fats (corn oil or sunflower oil), saturated fats (butter, cream, sausages), and trans fats (cakes, cookies, crackers), which can cause inflammation. These fats can contribute to insulin resistance.
The primary element in this type of treatment is the reduction in the intake of carbohydrates, and being physically active through exercise. All persons with diabetes are advised to do that, the difference here is that a scientific approach is taken by consciously monitoring the food that is being taken.
Some people who tried the method showed signs of lower blood glucose levels. It is vital in preventing diabetes complications. However, it is necessary to take note that it is not considered a cure for insulin resistance.
Is there a cure for type 2 diabetes? We cannot give a definitive answer to the question – at least not yet. Doctors and researchers are in the initial stages of finding a cure for the illness that affects the lives of so many people worldwide. However, as of now, more clinical trials are needed to prove the effectiveness of such drugs/treatments. But do not be discouraged.
Having regular visits to the doctor and consistent blood monitoring can still go a long way in managing your diabetes. For the meantime, eating a healthy diet and being physically active can significantly lower the risk of complications.