A new one-hour procedure could mean the end of daily insulin shots for thousands of people with type 2 diabetes.
While insulin shots can control the condition, they can be uncomfortable and should be administered regularly, after careful calculation.
Now scientists have discovered that zapping the lining of the small intestine with mild electrical pulses in a one-time treatment controls blood sugar just as well.
In a recent clinical trial, 86 percent of type 2 patients who underwent the procedure were able to control their condition with diet and pills alone and went off insulin completely.
Type 2 diabetes is linked to poor nutrition, a sedentary lifestyle and obesity, and is characterized by high blood sugar levels. It develops when the body either doesn’t make enough insulin (a hormone released by the pancreas to help muscle cells absorb sugar from the blood to use as energy), or cells in the body become resistant to the hormone.
Scientists have found that by zapping the lining of the small intestine with mild electrical pulses in a single treatment, blood sugar levels can be controlled
Over time, high or uncontrolled blood sugar damages vital organs and narrows blood vessels, reducing circulation.
Drugs such as metformin, along with lifestyle changes, can help insulin work better. But about a quarter of patients eventually need daily injections of synthetic insulin. This means repeatedly working out the dose needed depending on what they eat.
The new procedure, ReCET (re-cellularization via electroporation therapy), could allow type 2 patients taking insulin to get rid of it. (Type 2 patients still produce some insulin, unlike type 1 patients, who would not benefit from ReCET.)
The electrical pulses are delivered through an endoscope to the lining of the duodenum (the first part of the small intestine) – a thin tube that passes through the throat.
The duodenum, located just below the stomach, is where most of the nutrients from food are absorbed. High blood sugar levels are believed to trigger changes in cells lining this part of the gut, making the body resistant to its own insulin.
The electrical pulses make tiny holes in these cells, causing them to die so that the intestinal lining replaces them with healthy new cells that respond well to the body’s own insulin, helping to better control blood sugar levels.
The new hour-long procedure could mean the end of daily insulin shots for thousands of people with type 2 diabetes (File image)
After undergoing the procedure, all 14 patients in the trial were given a liquid diet for a week to heal the intestines.
They then started the diabetes drug semaglutide (brand name Ozempic), which helps the pancreas release the right amount of insulin.
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Semaglutide on its own can sometimes cause patients with type 2 to stop taking insulin – but only in about 20 percent of cases.
However, when the drug was taken after the procedure, 86 percent had good blood sugar control without the need for insulin. No side effects of the procedure were reported. The Amsterdam University Medical Center researchers, who presented their findings at the Digestive Disease Week conference in Chicago earlier this year, are now conducting larger studies, comparing the treatment to a placebo.
This isn’t the first time bowel procedures have helped treat type 2 diabetes.
Gastric bypass surgery can cure the disease even before patients lose weight by triggering changes in gut hormones that encourage more stable blood sugar levels.
Other studies have looked at ablation, which uses heat to change the lining of the small intestine, but this can damage the intestinal wall.
Commenting on ReCET, Ahmed R. Ahmed, a bariatric surgeon at Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust in London, said the single therapy combined with tablets could mimic the effects of gastric bypass surgery. He added, “The key will be how long the benefits of these treatments last.”
Secrets of an A-List body
This week: Margot Robbie’s abs
The cutout in Margot’s pink Barbie-inspired dress highlights the 33-year-old Australian actor’s strong upper abs
The cutout in Margot’s pink Barbie-inspired dress, which she wore on tour for her new film, highlights the 33-year-old Australian actor’s strong upper abs – achieved through an active lifestyle of tennis, running, dancing and Pilates classes, to name a few. not to mention the recent revelation that she can hold a plank for four minutes and ten seconds.
What to try: Instead of holding a plank to infinity, spice up the position with this variation.
Start in standard plank position with your hands flat on the floor, shoulder width apart, body in a straight line from shoulders to heels, toe tips on the floor.
Exhale slowly, keeping your core muscles engaged, and raise your right arm off the floor in front of you and your left leg behind you, keeping your hips horizontal. Hold for 30 seconds, return to normal plank position and repeat on the other side. Rest and repeat three times.