The answer is yes! Even today, new treatments for type 1 and type 2 diabetes are being developed. At the moment none of these have withstood the ultimate test of time but there is some hope.
One of the new treatments now being made available is a drug based on the saliva of a venomous lizard – the Gila Monster. This new treatment is delivered to the patient by injection in much the same way as insulin. Some early trials and tests have seen many participants withdraw from the treatments because of more side effects than those caused by insulin. It should be noted that all research to date on this treatment has been sponsored by the pharmaceutical company that produces this drug.
Inhalation is another new treatment going through trials. The insulin is prepared in a dry micro-fine powder which is inhaled directly into the lungs. From there it is absorbed into the blood stream. There are some concerns about the long term problems that may be caused by this method of delivery, and it is not suitable for smokers or asthma sufferers.
Researchers reported limited success in treating patients with type 1 diabetes with an antibody called ChAglyCD3. This seems to preserve some of the valuable beta cells within the pancreas to permit at least some insulin production and release from within the body itself. Treatment with this antibody slows the progression of the autoimmune response and the associated destruction of the insulin producing cells of the pancreas. Some adverse side effects have been reported and the treatment has yet to be proven as completely safe.
Insulin pumps that are implanted into the body are now available for the type 1 diabetic for whom regular insulin shots are essential. These small pumps are embedded in the abdomen and deliver a constant dose of insulin direct to the liver.
In addition to the above, genetic research continues into the causes of diabetes. There are some researchers claiming success in identifying the gene responsible for the development of type 2 diabetes. This particular gene is thought to cause an excessive production of the protein PC-1 by the body, and it is this particular protein that causes insulin resistance within the cells. Geneticists hope that further research will assist diabetics through the development of the following possible treatments:
- Development of a diabetes vaccine. Experiments are already being conducted on lab animals to test a vaccination against the auto-immune response that causes type 1 diabetes.
- Scientists are using genetic engineering to create liver cells that produce insulin. Although insulin is produced in this procedure, there is no internal control mechanism, so the insulin levels from such cells remains constant regardless of the body’s requirement for this hormone. More research is required.
- Stem cell research is aiding as well. There is an enormous amount of research into the therapeutic use of stem cells. Stem cells are the very basic building blocks of the human body. They have the ability to develop themselves into any kind of cell. Researchers hope to find a way to use stem cells to make insulin producing cells to replace those that have been damaged by the autoimmune problem that causes type 1 diabetes.
All of these new treatments offer hope for the future but the effectiveness of any of them will not be fully appreciated until they have been tested and that will time and much more research.
For more information and resources on type 1 and type 2 diabetes , symptoms, diet and solutions visit Jeremy Parker's complete reference guide on Diabetes .