Kristin Wall
Apr 30, 2012

New diabetes treatment combines insulin and hormone therapy

New research is aiming to simplify diabetic treatment, scaling down treatment kits like this.Incidence of diabetes, especially adult-onset (Type II) diabetes, is approaching epidemic proportions.  The number of adults with diabetes worldwide has more than doubled since 1980, with over 347 million people worldwide suffering from this incurable disease.  This condition is chronic and progressive, and health officials are concerned that many people are not optimally controlling their diabetes.  Scientists are working diligently, therefore, to improve both blood glucose monitoring methods and insulin-based treatments. 

Since the introduction of therapeutic insulin in the 1920s, continuous efforts have been made to improve diabetes treatment.  Some of the commercially available insulin formulations are characterized by a fast onset of action, while other formulations have a relatively slow onset but  prolonged action.  Because people suffering from diabetes are subject to chronic treatment over several decades, there is a major need for safe, convenient and life-quality improving insulin formulations.

Human glucagon-like peptide-1 (GLP-1) is a 37-amino acid residue peptide originating from preproglucagon, which is synthesized in the L-cells in the small intestine, in the pancreas and in the brain.  GLP-1 is an important gut hormone with regulatory function in glucose metabolism and gastrointestinal secretion and metabolism.  GLP-1 stimulates insulin secretion in a glucose-dependent manner, stimulates insulin biosynthesis, promotes beta cell rescue and decreases glucagon secretion, gastric emptying and food intake.

As the Type II diabetes population is rapidly increasing worldwide, there is a much greater need for simpler administration of more effective drugs.  The combined effects of GLP-1 are expected to safely and effectively lower blood glucose.  However, some patients may benefit from an extra small dose of insulin with main meals.  A combination formulation comprising an insulin peptide and a GLP-1 peptide may, with a fixed ratio of the two pharmaceuticals, be a very efficacious treatment requiring less frequent injections.  Because only a low dose of insulin is given with the meal and the GLP-1 counterpart of the formulation controls glucose for the rest of the day and night, and because GLP-1 does not lead to hypoglycemia, it may also be a very safe treatment. 

Scientists in Denmark believe they have created such a stable pharmaceutical composition, comprising meal-related insulin and a GLP-1 peptide in one combined formulation.  While this composition is primarily intended for treating patients with diabetes, it also has applications in treating bulimia and decreasing food intake.