After semaglutide treatment, newly diagnosed type 1 diabetes patients required minimal or no insulin.

After semaglutide treatment, newly diagnosed type 1 diabetes patients required minimal or no insulin.

Researchers are looking into treatments for type 1 diabetes that don’t involve insulin.

Promising Results in Using Semaglutide to Treat Type 1 Diabetes

Type 1 diabetes is a chronic condition that requires daily insulin injections for effective management. However, researchers from the University at Buffalo have discovered a potential breakthrough in the treatment of type 1 diabetes that may shift the traditional approach away from insulin injections. The study, published in the New England Journal of Medicine, explored the use of the drug semaglutide, typically prescribed for type 2 diabetes, to treat type 1 diabetes.

A Paradigm Shift in Type 1 Diabetes Treatment?

The small study conducted by researchers showed promising results in using semaglutide to treat individuals with newly diagnosed type 1 diabetes. The participants, who had been diagnosed within the past three to six months, were gradually weaned off their insulin shots and instead treated with semaglutide. Within three months, none of the participants required mealtime insulin doses, and within six months, seven of the ten participants no longer needed basal (background) insulin. These findings indicate the potential for a significant change in the understanding and treatment of type 1 diabetes.

Understanding the Types of Diabetes and Their Treatment

To understand the significance of this research, let’s first delve into the various types of diabetes and how they are traditionally treated. In individuals with diabetes, there is a malfunction in how their bodies convert food into energy. The hormone insulin, produced by the pancreas, regulates the conversion of blood sugar into energy within the body’s cells. However, in people with diabetes, insulin is either ineffective or produced in insufficient quantities.

There are three primary types of diabetes:

  1. Type 1 diabetes: This form of diabetes can be diagnosed at any age and is traditionally treated with insulin injections.
  2. Type 2 diabetes: This type can often be prevented or managed through lifestyle changes and responds to medications like semaglutides.
  3. Gestational diabetes: Occurring in some pregnant women, gestational diabetes requires specialized treatment during pregnancy but typically resolves after giving birth.

Type 1 diabetes has long been treated with insulin injections since its discovery in 1921. While insulin injections are effective, they necessitate daily treatment to regulate blood sugar levels effectively. Semaglutides, on the other hand, have primarily been prescribed to treat type 2 diabetes and assist in weight management.

Researching Semaglutides for Type 1 Diabetes

Led by senior author Dr. Paresh Dandona, researchers at the University of Buffalo have been investigating the effects of semaglutide and similar medications like liraglutide (sold as Victoza) for type 1 diabetes since 2011. The study involved ten participants who had recently received a type 1 diabetes diagnosis. Over time, their semaglutide dosage was gradually increased as they were weaned off their insulin shots.

The results were promising, with none of the participants requiring mealtime insulin doses after three months. Furthermore, within six months, seven out of the ten participants no longer needed basal insulin. These findings sparked interest among researchers and reinforced the idea that treatment for type 1 diabetes may extend beyond insulin alone.

Exploring the Potential of Semaglutides

Semaglutide belongs to a newer class of drugs called GLP-1 agonists, which have gained popularity in the past decade. Aside from effectively treating type 2 diabetes, these medications have shown potential for weight loss in individuals. However, it is crucial to approach semaglutide treatment under the guidance of a healthcare professional.

According to Dr. Pouya Shafipour, a family and obesity medicine physician, semaglutides can lead to weight loss but may cause weight regain once discontinued. To optimize outcomes, individuals taking semaglutides should engage in strength training, weight training, and regular exercise to preserve muscle mass and prevent undesired weight fluctuations.

Overcoming Challenges and Transforming Diabetes Treatment

While the recent study provides promising results, there are challenges that need to be addressed before semaglutide can be widely adopted for type 1 diabetes treatment. Currently, semaglutide is only approved for type 2 diabetes and may not be covered by insurance for individuals with type 1 diabetes.

Dr. Dandona emphasizes the potential benefits of using semaglutide in type 1 diabetes treatment. By replacing multiple insulin shots per day with a single weekly shot and minimizing blood sugar fluctuations, this treatment could significantly enhance the quality of life for individuals with type 1 diabetes. However, further studies and extended multicenter research need to be conducted to validate the consistency and long-term effects of this treatment approach.

Dr. Dandona acknowledges that the notion of treating type 1 diabetes without insulin may sound like science fiction. Nevertheless, with ongoing efforts and scientific advancements, researchers are determined to explore new possibilities and potentially alter the natural history of type 1 diabetes. As the field of medicine continues to evolve, hopes remain high for finding innovative and effective treatments that may alleviate daily burdens for those living with type 1 diabetes.