news and notes diabetes

    Berberine seems to be a safer option and works just as well as metformin.

    Metformin improves insulin sensitivity and is the mainstay treatment in the control and prevention of diabetes. In vitro it exerts significant anti-inflammatory and antioxidant activities. In animal models berberine has neuro-protective and cardiovascular protective effects.

    In humans, its lipid-lowering and insulin-resistance improving actions have clearly been demonstrated in numerous randomized clinical trials. Moreover, preliminary clinical evidence suggest the ability of berberine to reduce endothelial inflammation improving vascular health, even in patients already affected by cardiovascular diseases. Altogether the available evidences suggest a possible application of berberine use in the management of chronic cardiometabolic disorders.

    Promising Diabetes Research

    Type 1 diabetes: GABA/GAD in very young children

    In T1D, autoantibodies destroy the pancreatic beta cells, insulin release is diminished, and glucagon release is excessive relative to the insulin deficiency. A clinical trial was published in Nature Communications, focusing exclusively on children with recent onset T1D.

    In this trial, the inhibition of glucagon by GABA/GAD, leads to expansion of insulin-secreting beta cells and improvements in hyperglycemia. The neurotransmitter GABA, acts on the beta cells that produce insulin and the alpha cells that produce glucagon. The enzyme GAD, acts on glutamate to form GABA.

    Both GABA and GAD are highly concentrated in the pancreatic islet, which is the autoimmune target of T1D. Increased GABA doses, or longer-acting preparations, could offer sufficiently prolonged, above-threshold GABA concentrations to preserve islet cells, particularly during stage 1 diabetes.

    Source: Martin, A., Mick, G.J., Choat, H.M. et al. A randomized trial of oral gamma aminobutyric acid (GABA) or the combination of GABA with glutamic acid decarboxylase (GAD) on pancreatic islet endocrine function in children with newly diagnosed type 1 diabetes. Nat Commun 13, 7928 (2022).

    An emerging way to treat diabetes is to repair or replace the cells in the body that naturally produce insulin. Swedish researchers have now identified a molecule that helps stimulate the growth of new insulin-producing cells, and uncovered how it works, opening up new potential diabetes treatments.


    An experimental implant containing stem cells designed to mature into insulin-secreting cells passed its first human trails. The studies reported the implant (designed to replace the missing insulin cells) to be mildly effective, offering promising signs of a ‘functional cure’ for diabetics with type 1.

    The implanted stem may mature and become islet tissue that includes the beta cells that produce insulin when needed so that normal blood sugar levels may be maintained! Is this not just wonderful news!!

    ‘Because of this initial success, we are now implanting larger numbers of cells in additional patients and we hope that this will result in a significant reduction or even elimination of the need for patients to take insulin injections in the near future,’ says David Thompson, a researcher working on the trial from the Vancouver General Hospital Diabetes Centre.

    The new findings have been published in the journal Cell Stem Cell.

    Promising Diabetes Research


    Yale researchers have developed a pill that controls insulin levels while simultaneously reversing the inflammatory effects of the disease. The pill addresses three issues:

    • it helps control immediate blood glucose levels
    • restores pancreatic function, and
    • re-establishes normal immunity in the pancreatic environment.

    Developer Tarek Fahmy, associate professor of biomedical engineering and of immunobiology: ‘What excites me about this is that it’s a two-pronged approach. It’s facilitating normal metabolism as well as correcting immune defects in the long term.’ The nanoparticle or nanocarrier, made from polymerized bile acid, protects the insulin while carrying it to the pancreas.

    Published in Yale Biomedical Engineering, 2021 Nov;5(11):1403.


    When it comes to insulin delivery, injections are not the most comfortable or convenient for diabetes patients. But with several other oral insulin alternatives also being tested and developed, there is hope. Dr. Pratap-Singh's research team developed a different kind of tablet that isn't made for swallowing, but instead dissolves when placed between the gum and cheek.

    This method makes use of the thin membrane found within the lining of the inner cheek and back of the lips (also known as the buccal mucosa). It delivered all the insulin to the liver without wasting or decomposing any insulin along the way.

    The study is yet to go into human trials. Beyond the clear potential benefits to diabetics, the tablet could also be more sustainable, cost-effective and accessible. There is a lot of environmental waste from the needles and plastic from the syringe. Transporting the tablets would be easier for diabetics, who currently have to think about keeping their doses cool.

    Published in Scientific Reports, 2022. DOI: 10.1038/s41598-022-13092-6

    Promising Diabetes Research

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