A Closer Look At New Developments In Diabetes

Author(s): 
David A. Farnen, BS, and Stephanie C. Wu, DPM, MSc

   The researchers found TAFI levels to be significantly elevated in patients with diabetes with or without foot ulcers in comparison to the healthy controls. However, there was no difference in TAFI levels between the diabetic foot ulcer group and diabetic non-ulcer group, or between diabetic foot ulcer stages.

   As research in this arena continues, a new class of blood markers may give additional insight to screen people who are at a higher risk of developing diabetes and intervene before the symptoms and the broad spectrum of associated complications occur.

Can An Artificial Pancreas System Enhance Glucose Control?

The artificial pancreas is a technology that is best described as a closed loop glucose management system that is intended to afford patients with diabetes better glucose control while averting the hypoglycemic state.8 With the advancement of technologies, newer artificial pancreas systems consist of a real-time continuous glucose monitoring (CGM) system. This system transmits information every one to five minutes from an under the skin sensor to a handheld receiver that can be integrated into a pump. The device also has an insulin pump with a pre-programmed algorithm that calculates appropriate insulin dosages based on the glucose ratings.

   A potential imperfection to this CGM system is that the system reads glucose levels from the patient’s interstitial fluid as opposed to the actual blood glucose levels. The interstitial compartment has a lag time of eight to ten minutes and can affect the glucose readings, especially postprandial readings.

   The insulin pump is a beeper-sized device that is flexibly attached via a tube in the tissue just under the skin and will release as per patient requirement. Some partial “half-loop” solutions are available in Europe and the FDA has recently approved three of the closed loop systems. Meticulous testing is still needed before the system can go on the market.9

Emerging Insights On Stem Cell Advances

With islet cell transplantation research quickly on the rise to help regenerate the disordered islet cells of the pancreas, we have seen much promise in stem cell research. Ideally, the in vitro generation of insulin-producing cells from stem or progenitor cells presents a promising approach to overcome the scarcity of donor pancreases for cell replacement therapy in people with diabetes.10

   In an ongoing study, researchers at the Diabetes Research Institute are assessing the effects of biohybrid devices, also known as “scaffolds,” to house and protect the transplanted insulin producing cells.11 These “scaffolds” are designed to mimic the pancreatic environment and are being tested in different areas of the body that include the abdominal pouch, muscle tissue or subcutaneously. Furthermore, the “scaffolds” are also being tested to deliver favorable agents that may help promote the growth and viability of the transplanted islet cells.

   Current studies are very optimistic in showing that these “scaffolds” co-transplanted with mesenchymal stem cell regenerative islet cells can help accelerate angiogenesis, which prolongs the longevity and functionality of islet cell regeneration.12

Encouraging Patient Adherence: What Recent Studies Reveal

Patient adherence is one of the many challenges in the treatment and management of diabetes. For years, physicians have been researching new methods in tracking patient adherence to glucose monitoring and management, and to pressure mitigation devices.

   In an article published in the Annals of Family Medicine, researchers looked at the participation levels of patients with type 2 diabetes in their primary care check-up visits.13 Several offices sent questionnaires to these patients regarding their treatment goals and plans at the initial visit as well as follow-up visits. Researchers found that the more patients participated in their treatment decisions and management, the better they adhered to the prescribed medications and treatment. This resulted in better control of their diabetes.

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