New Drug Might Replace Daily Injections

For people with progressed type 2 diabetes that requires daily maintenance, there might be a partial solution to this constant inconvenience. A new type 2 diabetes treatment has recently been developed that requires only one weekly treatment, and early results seem to indicate it is substantially effective.

Type 2 diabetes is characterized by insulin resistance and decreased insulin sensitivity, which in more developed stages, requires insulin injections and other supplemental medications. These treatments are often needed multiple times a day to maintain healthy blood glucose levels. According to Dr. Daniel Drucker, principle developer of the novel treatment, “There is currently no available therapy for type 2 diabetes that patients can receive once a week.”

The new treatment consists of a weekly injection of the “long-acting” drug Exanatide. Glucogen-like peptide (GLP-1) is produced naturally in a non-diabetic body following eating, and helps maintain healthy blood-glucose levels. Exanatide works by “mimicking” the GLP-1 mechanism. A non long-acting form of Exanatide is currently in use as a supplement to other treatments, injections taken twice daily.

300 diabetic patients participated in the study, and were split into groups that received weekly Exanatide injections and twice daily conventional Exanatide injections. The study found that 75% of patients in the long-acting Exanatide group reached target glucose levels. Additionally, common insulin injection side effects, such as hypoglycemia (abnormally low blood-glucose levels) and increased body weight, were not experienced by both Exanatide groups.

Long-acting Exanatide has not been approved for mass market implementation yet, but the results are promising. While a long-acting drug like this has high success rates, it’s being shown not to be completely successful (75%), so even if the drug passes regulatory standards, monitoring one’s blood-glucose levels will still be compulsory for managing diabetes. Still, the hope for many of eliminating inconvenient and uncomfortable daily treatments makes these results potentially very helpful.

Source: Defeat Diabetes Foundation: Drucker, Daniel. Luscombe, Nikki. Lancet news release. September 2008.