Is diabetes curable?
There isn’t a cure for diabetes right now. But scientists across the UK are pushing boundaries and taking steps to build a future where diabetes can do no harm.
A review of therapies and lifestyle changes for diabetes
In May 2020, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recommended that some makers of metformin extended release remove some of their tablets from the U.S. market. This is because an unacceptable level of a probable carcinogen (cancer-causing agent) was found in some extended-release metformin tablets.If you currently take this drug, call your healthcare provider.They will advise whether you should continue to take your medication or if you need a new prescription.
When diabetes goes into remission, it means that the body does not show any signs of diabetes, although the disease is technically still present.
Doctors have not come to a final consensus on what exactly constitutes remission, but they all include A1C levels below 6 percent as a significant factor. A1C levels indicate a person’s blood sugar levels over 3 months.
According to Diabetes Care, remission can take different forms:
- Partial remission: When a person has maintained a blood glucose level lower than that of a person with diabetes for at least 1 year without needing to use any diabetes medication.
- Complete remission: When the blood glucose level returns to normal levels completely outside of the range of diabetes or prediabetes and stays there for at least 1 year without any medications.
- Prolonged remission: When complete remission lasts for at least 5 years.
Even if a person maintains normal blood sugar levels for 20 years, a doctor would still consider their diabetes to be in remission rather than cured.
Achieving diabetes remission can be as simple as making changes to an exercise routine or diet.
Is there cure for diabetes type 1
No cure for diabetes currently exists, but the disease can go into remission.
Managing type 1 diabetes
Type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune disease that often develops during childhood. It occurs when the body mistakenly attacks the beta cells of the pancreas, removing their ability to produce the insulin that the body needs to use blood sugars correctly.
Receiving a diagnosis of type 1 diabetes can be daunting, yet many people manage the condition well, keeping symptoms and severe complications at bay.
Insulin injections are the most common treatment for type 1 diabetes. People can self-administer these injections at home.
There are a range of insulin injections available. They vary according to how quickly the insulin works and how long its effects last in the body. Insulin’s aim is to mimic how the body produces insulin throughout the day in relation to energy intake.
Is there a cure for Type 2 diabetes?
Remission is when blood glucose (or blood sugar) levels are in a normal range again. This doesn’t mean diabetes has gone for good. It’s still really important for people in remission to get regular healthcare checks. But being in remission can be life changing.
Our ground-breaking study is called DiRECT, short for Diabetes Remission Clinical Trial, and it could completely change the way Type 2 diabetes is treated in the future.
This is because type 2 diabetes is not an autoimmune disease and a range of outside forces and lifestyle habits can make it worse.
While this means type 2 diabetes is much more widespread than type 1 diabetes, it also means that a person with type 2 diabetes can make relatively simple lifestyle and dietary adjustments to bring their blood sugar levels back into the normal range.
Dietary intake and obesity both play a critical role in the development of type 2 diabetes. As such, people can reverse the symptoms of type 2 diabetes by adhering to specific lifestyle changes that include improving their diet and exercise regimen.
Medications for diabetes
While lifestyle adjustments can help reduce the impact of type 2 diabetes, most people with the condition will need to take medications to lower blood glucose and boost the body’s production of and sensitivity to insulin.
These include the following classes of drug:
- Alpha-glucosidase inhibitors: These prevent starch from breaking down, helping to lower blood glucose. People should take them alongside the first bite of a meal. Acarbose and miglitol are common alpha-glucosidase inhibitors for people with diabetes.
- Biguanides: This category of drugs includes metformin, which is a common diabetes medication. Biguanides instruct the liver to produce less glucose and increase insulin sensitivity in the muscles.
- Bile acid sequestrants (BASs): Colesevelam is a BAS that reduces harmful cholesterol as well as blood sugar. These drugs do not enter the bloodstream, so people who have liver problems can use this medication safely.
- Dopamine-2 agonists: These reduce blood glucose following a meal. Examples include bromocriptine.
- DPP-4 inhibitors: These help support long-term glucose management without leading to hypoglycemia. They help a compound called GLP-1 remain in the body longer, which reduces glucose levels. Alogliptin, linagliptin, saxagliptin, and sitagliptin are the DPP-4 inhibitors presently available.
- Meglitinides: These stimulate the beta cells in the pancreas to release insulin. Nateglinide and repaglinide are meglitinides that are currently available.
- SGLT2 inhibitors: These block the actions of a protein called SGLT2 that reabsorbs glucose into the kidneys. This in turns stimulates the body to release the glucose in the urine, reducing levels in the blood. This is a new class of medication that includes canagliflozin, dapagliflozin, and empagliflozin.
- Sulfonylureas: These cause a greater release of insulin from the beta cells. Sulfonylureas are an older class of medication, and the only first-generation sulfonylurea still in use today is chlorpropamide. Glimepiride, glipizide, and glyburide are newer medications that cause fewer side effects.
- Thiazolidinediones: These improve the function of insulin in fat and muscle, as well as reducing glucose production in the liver. This class includes rosiglitazone and pioglitazone.
Doctors may prescribe one of these or a combination, depending on the severity and presentation of diabetes. Combination therapy is more expensive and has a higher risk of side effects but often has a more controlling impact on glucose.
People with type 2 diabetes do not often need to take additional insulin. As insulin sensitivity, as opposed to insulin production, is the main issue for people with type 2, medication focuses on reducing blood sugar and improving absorption.
Research into reversal methods
A 2016 study found that certain interventions can help put type 2 diabetes into remission, including:
- personalized exercise routines
- strict diets
- glucose-controlling drugs
Four months after the intervention, 40 percent of the subjects were able to stop taking their medications and remained in partial or complete remission.
Managing gestational diabetes
Gestational diabetes is a type that develops during pregnancy and resolves after the birth of the child.
Many diabetes medications adversely interact with a developing fetus, so speak to a doctor about pregnancy-safe alternatives for reducing blood sugar and boosting insulin.
People with gestational diabetes must control sugar intake and engage in regular, light exercise. However, if this does not have the desired effect, the doctor may prescribe insulin to control blood sugar levels.
Very few high-quality studies confirm which non-insulin medications are safe for women and babies. The American Diabetes Association (ADA) advise against using them during pregnancy, although some doctors do prescribe them.
More research needed to find cure for diabetes
But scientists across the UK aren’t finished. And it’s only more resource so they can push ahead with ground-breaking research to find a cure for diabetes.