A medical breakthrough could eliminate the need for insulin injections in people with type 2 diabetes.
The procedure, which is still in the early stages of development, involves ‘zapping’ the duodenum, the first part of the small intestine, with electrical pulses.
‘Currently, the only treatment for diabetes not managed with lifestyle changes are oral medications or, in the case of advanced disease, insulin injections, both of which can be costly or have side effects,’ said Dr Luke Putnam, the lead investigator of the clinical trial.
‘If this therapy is proven effective, it could eliminate the need for medication or insulin, or potentially prevent disease progression so it does not lead to organ failure and other debilitating conditions.’
The procedure is designed for patients before they require insulin and targets the duodenum, the first part of the small intestine that works with the pancreas to regulate insulin and blood glucose levels.
Recent data suggests the duodenum plays an important role in glucose regulation, and in patients with type 2 diabetes, the cells lining the duodenum become damaged.
The clinical trial is testing a device inserted via an endoscope into the duodenum that ‘zaps’ the poorly functioning cells through precise, controlled electrical pulses.
Researchers believe that removing the damaged cells will promote the regrowth of healthy cells, which will better regulate blood glucose levels.
The procedure takes about an hour and is done under general anaesthetic. Patients are discharged the same day and can continue normal activities a few days later.
‘Previous studies have shown that ablation of cells in the duodenum is effective in controlling blood sugar levels, so we are optimistic this study will produce successful results,’ said Dr Putnam.
The trial has already shown promise in some patients like Mark Canning, a 60-year-old Los Angeles resident diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes in 2015.
After undergoing the procedure in January, Mr Canning has reported progress in controlling his blood glucose.
‘My blood sugar levels are falling, and I am feeling very encouraged,’ said Mr Canning.
While clinical trial is still ongoing, the researchers are still learning about the long-term effects of the procedure.
While the clinical trial is ongoing, the researchers are still learning about the procedure’s long-term effects.
If the procedure is shown to be safe and effective in larger studies, it could have a significant impact on the lives of millions of people around the world.
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