In Search of Newer Alternatives to Insulin

Insulin has been the gold standard for treating diabetes since its discovery in the early 1920s. In fact, not much has happened since in terms of diabetes treatment to regulate blood sugar levels.

But things are about to change now. Germany recently presented research related to the development of new diabetes treatments. The proposed treatments will cater to both diabetes type one and type two.

Each type presents its own set of challenges and implications to deal with. Of the two, diabetes type one is an autoimmune condition which occurs when the body is unable to produce insulin. With this type, pancreatic beta cells which produce insulin get destroyed by the body’s immune system.

People who suffer from type one diabetes need additional supplementation of glucose via injections to regulate blood glucose levels. The condition is typically diagnosed at an early age and also goes by the name of juvenile diabetes.

In type two diabetes, the body becomes resistant to insulin. While there is no known cure for this condition it can be managed by regulating diet, working out and keeping up a healthy weight. For people who are unable to manage their blood glucose levels, there is the option of medication or insulin therapy.

Diabetes has been linked to the rise of obesity and sedentary lifestyles in developed countries.

New solutions to an old problem

Working diligently on the diabetic front, Sanofi, a global pharmaceutical company, has three different diabetes medications in the works. The treatments hope to work by raising the quantity of glucose that gets expelled through urine and lowering the quantity of glucose taken into the body.

Of these, one is dedicated to the treatment of type one diabetes, work on which has been completed.

This drug is designed to work on youth-onset type one diabetes and aims at improving blood sugar regulation for the user. Although not a replacement for insulin therapy, by improving glucose levels, the drug may make it possible to use less insulin for affected individuals.

The drug would be the first of its kind after getting approval and Sanofi plans on launching it on the market after getting clearance.

The other two drugs in the works are for the treatment of type two diabetes. Both treatments derive inspiration from an existing product known as GLP-1 therapy. The therapy is used once every day and proves to be highly effective. With further research it is hoped that its use will be relegated to once every week.

According to Sanofi experts, the development for one of these drugs is now in the third phase working towards making it an injection that can be used once a week for patients.

The other therapy hopes to work on a drug that will work on two issues simultaneously. This drug will be developed with the aim of working on both diabetes as well as obesity at the same time. Once developed, the drug could prove be very helpful for diabetics who may also be overweight. Or it could be used on obese individuals who may not be diabetic.

But since drug development for this therapy is only in its first phase, there is still a lot of work left. Research into the second phase will help determine whether the drug can be used for diabetics only, or obese individuals, or both. The third phase will then investigate the drug’s effectiveness and safety for use.

All research is being done in Germany’s aptly named “Insulin City” an industrial suburb in Frankfurt.