A new drug is showing results which should eventually be good news for many of the two million-plus million people in this country who have type 2 diabetes. A Phase II study, carried out by a team at the University of Michigan Medical School, Michigan found that TAK-875, a new, oral drug improves the release of insulin in a glucose-dependant manner. This means that when blood sugar levels are normal, it has no effect on them.
This is important because it may be able to improve blood glucose control without risking hypoglycaemia – what happens when blood glucose falls too low, so patients don’t have enough energy to function properly. Symptoms include feeling hungry, shaking, sweating and trembling. You can counteract this by having something containing sugar such as cola or fruit juice.
The study, which was led by Charles Burant of the University of Michigan, involved 426 people with type 2 diabetes. None of the participants were able to control their blood sugar levels well enough through diet, exercise or metformin treatment. Around 300 of the participants had one to five doses of TAK-875, 62 had glimepiride (one of the sulphonylureas drugs that help to lower blood sugar), and 61 had a placebo.
“In view of the frequent hypoglycaemia after treatment with sulfonylureas, the low risk of hypoglycaemia after treatment with TAK-875 suggests that there may be therapeutic advantage of targeting FFAR1 in treating people with type 2 diabetes,” explain the researchers.
“We are truly excited about the potential of TAK-875 and are eager to conduct larger trials to find out how well this drug works, how safe it is, and what its place is in the treatment of diabetes.”
Further work needs to be carried out, but so far the results appear promising. Reducing the risk of having to cope with the effects of low blood sugar could make a big difference to an awful lot of people.
The serious potential health risks associated with having diabetes this usually mean a change in lifestyle – eating a healthier diet, keeping to a healthy weight, and regular exercise as well as taking medication.
Look after your feet
Another study, published in the journal Diabetologia, found that people with diabetes are 20 times more likely to undergo an amputation. By comparing figures from Primary Care Trusts across England, the researchers also found a tenfold difference in amputation rates in different parts of England, varying from two amputations in every 10,000 people with diabetes, to 22 in every 10,000.
One of the researchers whop prepared the report, Professor William Jeffcoate, consultant diabetologist at Nottingham City Hospital, called for a more integrated approach to foot care. He said, “Foot disease is very complicated and a single professional hasn’t necessarily got the skills to manage every aspect of it.
“And that’s why I believe that only if you can gather a multi-disciplinary team and make sure that people have rapid access to assessment by such a team, it’s only in that way that we think you can provide the best service.”
Barbara Young, Chief Executive at Diabetes UK, said, “A single preventable amputation is one too many and so the fact that thousands of people in the UK are enduring unnecessary foot amputations is nothing short of a national disgrace.
“A big part of bringing this to an end is giving people with diabetes information about how to look after their feet, as many of them are not even aware that amputation is a potential complication. But we also need to make sure they understand what healthcare they should be getting. “