New Treatments for Diabetes
By David Moore

Diabetes is a disorder that affects more and more people each year, and causes alterations in their lifestyles. If diabetes goes untreated it can often lead to numbness of feet, loss of eyesight, nerve damage and even death. In order to control their condition, diabetics often must take insulin injections twice daily and monitor their blood sugar levels closely. Within the past few years some promising alternative treatments are being developed, which boast of eliminating insulin injections, and easing the burden for caregivers of diabetics in the process. New technology such as stem cell therapy and inhaled insulin are proposed viable alternatives that when approved will drastically change the management of diabetes for the better. 

Stem cell therapy is still in its development stage, but the clinical evidence has provided some proof to the theory that using viable stem cells and injecting them with proteins can in fact trigger an insulin response. While these studies have yet to be tested on humans, the belief is that within 5 years, diabetes can be controlled and in some cases totally alleviated. The key is whether or not these stem cells are able to recognize glucose-binding sites within cells and allow for an insulin response. This could take a huge burden off of diabetics and the caregivers, for it would mean no more injections, and fewer chances for high and low blood sugar reactions. Despite opposition from reputable companies and foundations, research has recently found an adult stem cell that could in fact promote insulin production in the body immediately upon binding to glucose. Research will continue and although still a few years from implementation, this form of treatment could be the answer diabeticís need.

Inhaled insulin is a treatment that allows insulin to be administered by breathing in of a dry powdered form of the drug using an apparatus similar to an asthma inhaler. This insulin goes directly into the lungs, and then is distributed into the bloodstream. A few concerns exist with this recent advancement, including maintaining accuracy of the amount of insulin inhaled each time, and possible problems if used when smoking or if the person has a cold or other respiratory infection which can throw off the insulinís effect. In clinical trials, an over 80% success rate was seen in Type 1 diabetics, and it was found that blood sugars remained consistent compared to injected insulin. While this form of technology is still working out the kinks, again the user and caregiver could benefit from a reliable, convenient source of insulin that can be carried anywhere.

Most diabetics today choose the form of treatment they feel works best for them, but if convenience and the possible cure for diabetes are possible, these treatments may be the treatments of choice in the future. Caregivers and diabetics should not rejoice just yet, but they should be encouraged for the future of diabetes. With the right diet and lifestyle now, diabetics have promising news to look towards, and in the end they could reap the benefits of no more injections!


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