Revolutionary Advances In The Field Of Diabetes
The term ‘Diabetes Mellitus’ means ‘sweet urine’. Commonly known as Diabetes, it is actually a kind of disorder characterized by high concentrations of blood glucose in the body as a result of insufficient insulin production by the beta cells of pancreas or decreased insulin sensitivity of the body tissues. Due to lack of proper insulin, the body tissues are unable to utilize glucose as a source of energy.
Type I Diabetes, which results from failure to produce insulin by the beta cells of pancreas, can be controlled by regular insulin injections. Type II Diabetes, which involves decreased sensitivity of body tissues to metabolic effects of insulin and eventual lack of insulin, may be controlled with the help of oral medications which are believed to increase body’s response to insulin. Gestational diabetes, which occurs in a woman during pregnancy, may disappear after pregnancy if appropriate measures are taken.
Diabetes has become the 8th leading cause of death in our society which affects millions of people every year all around the world. Type II diabetes mellitus (Non Insulin-Dependent Diabetes) accounts for 90% of all the cases of diabetes worldwide, while rest of the cases include either type I diabetes mellitus (Insulin-Dependent Diabetes) or gestational diabetes.
There has been a tremendous amount of research concerning diabetes in recent years.According to a recent study carried out in mice with type II diabetes mellitus, a single injection of a protein, namely FGF1, which belongs to the family of Fibroblast Growth Factors, has been found to restore blood glucose levels back to normal within a few days. In addition, it has enhanced insulin levels in diabetic mice too. Unlike other drugs associated with the management of type II diabetes, FGF1 reportedly has no side effects such as weight gain, cardiovascular diseases etc.
For a very long time, the mortality rate for type I diabetes mellitus has been very high in developing countries. However, a team of researchers from Massachusetts General Hospital and Boston University has created an experimental device which is referred to as an artificial pancreas. The device, also known as bionic pancreas, consists of a smartphone connected to a glucose monitor and two pumps, each of insulin and glucagon.
The glucose monitor measures the blood glucose levels every 5 minutes, while an attached smartphone receives this reading from the monitor and calculates appropriate amount of insulin or glucagon that needs to be delivered to the patient via the respective pump. So far, it has shown great improvements in the control of type I diabetes mellitus in a number of trial participants. As it is an experimental device, further trials are being conducted to make sure the device is good for long-term control of blood sugar levels.
Despite an increase in the prevalence of diabetes at an alarming rate, scientists are working hard to devise methods which can control the disorder. We can hope for a better cure in the near future as the research regarding diabetes progresses to a new level.
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