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Alternative therapy being assessed for patients with type 2 diabetes
Alternative therapy being assessed for patients with type 2 diabetes

July 10, 2007 (Insidermedicine) A new class of medications that affect glucose metabolism may provide an effective alternative for patients with type 2 diabetes, say researchers in a report published in the Journal of the American Medical Association. 

Type 2 diabetes is a metabolic disorder in which the body has trouble using its own insulin to control blood sugar. It is the most common type of diabetes, and is strongly linked to lifestyle factors such as obesity, high blood pressure, and poor diet. In the US, it is estimated that more than 21 million people have diabetes and twice as many are at high risk of developing the disease.  

Current therapies are often limited by side effects such as weight gain or low blood sugar. A new class of medications called “incretin-based therapy”, which involves glucose-stimulated insulin secretion that is released in the presence of glucose or nutrients in the gut. Oral incretin was first approved by the FDA in 2006 for use alone or in combination with other medications to treat type 2 diabetes. However, the effectiveness of this class of medication in managing the disease is not well understood. 

To better understand the safety and effectiveness of incretin-based therapy, researchers analyzed 29 studies involving non-pregnant adults with type 2 diabetes. 

The review demonstrated that incretin-based therapy is moderately effective in improving blood glucose levels and has a favourable or neutral effect on weight. 

The new therapy offers an alternative to the currently available medications for type 2 diabetes in non-pregnant adults. Patients with mild diabetes who are at risk of adverse events due to their diabetes and who need to lose weight may benefit from this new class of therapy. However, studies are needed to assess the long-term effectiveness and safety of incretin-based therapy to determine its role among the many available and well-established therapies for type 2 diabetes.

Reporting for Insidermedicine, I’m Dr. Susan Sharma.