Founded in 2006, Massachusetts-based biotechnology startup Gelesis has raised a total of $118.2 million for developing an oral smart pill. In 2016, the company initially filed an IPO offering of $60 million, but pulled out and instead focused on raising more funding. The technology is based on capsules filled with tiny hydrogel particles that expand between 50 to 100 times their weight in size after absorbing water from the stomach, which results in increased satiety to help obese diabetes patients lose weight and control their sugar metabolism. They are currently undergoing a phase 2 clinical trial on their Gelesis200 product for treating diabetes.
The last time I was in Palm Springs was a year ago for the TEDMED conference (relational platform?), and at the time I was mystified. It was a full house at the price of $4,950 a ticket, even though TED Talks are available for free online. The videos can be sped up if the speaker is boring, segments can be skipped, and tabs can be opened to keep the talk running in the background while getting some email done or shopping for shoes. There would seem, then, very little reason to need to go to the actual conference, to sit through marathon sessions where a fair number of speakers mess up or forget their lines (as I did).
It's unclear how people get the disease — genetics plays a big role, though unknown environmental factors may also trigger the disease. Either way, the disease causes the immune system to mistakenly attack and kill insulin-producing cells, called beta cells, in the pancreas. (This differs from type 2 diabetes, in which the body initially makes sufficient insulin but the cells cannot properly use it.) Without enough insulin working to remove glucose from the blood stream, and allowing glucose to enter the body's cells, blood sugar levels spike. Left untreated, this insulin deficiency leads to a deadly complication called diabetic ketoacidosis. What's more, having high blood sugar over the long term can cause life-threatening complications such as kidney damage or heart disease, according to the Mayo Clinic.
I am very excited by the closed-loop artificial pancreas trial which is now in its final stages. Professor Roman Hovorka at the University of Cambridge is currently perfecting an algorithm that enables a continuous glucose monitor and an insulin pump to talk to each other, and take over the delivery of insulin throughout the day and night, to keep glucose levels in range.
Interestingly, research suggests anxiety may be tied to type 2 diabetes risk. According to a September 2016 study published in the journal Psychoneuroendocrinology, which measured levels of blood glucose and IL-6, a protein in the body that stimulates immune response and healing, found that people with with low inhibition — or attention control — were more likely to have type 2 diabetes.
While there is a strong genetic component to developing this form of diabetes, there are other risk factors - the most significant of which is obesity. There is a direct relationship between the degree of obesity and the risk of developing type 2 diabetes, and this holds true in children as well as adults. It is estimated that the chance to develop diabetes doubles for every 20% increase over desirable body weight.
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A substantial proportion of people who experience type 2 diabetes remission after gastric bypass eventually have relapse of the disease down the road. I feel the best study of this was done by my co-author on CROSSROADS, David Arterburn. In a study of nearly 5,000 patients with diabetes who underwent [gastric bypass surgery] and were followed retrospectively for 13 years, about 70% experienced diabetes remission. Among these, about 1/3 eventually relapsed, but it’s important to note that the median disease-free interval was 8.3 years.
According to the 2017 National Diabetes Statistics Report, over 30 million people living in the United States have diabetes. That’s almost 10 percent of the U.S. population. And diabetes is the seventh leading cause of death in the United States, causing, at least in part, over 250,000 deaths in 2015. That’s why it’s so important to take steps to reverse diabetes and the diabetes epidemic in America.
When there is excess glucose present in the blood, as with type 2 diabetes, the kidneys react by flushing it out of the blood and into the urine. This results in more urine production and the need to urinate more frequently, as well as an increased risk of urinary tract infections (UTIs) in men and women. People with type 2 diabetes are twice as likely to get a UTI as people without the disease, and the risk is higher in women than in men.
For her part, St Clair thought she was inquiring about a technical glitch. Her brother—the brother who along with three other siblings had gifted her the DNA test for her birthday—wasn’t showing up right in her family tree. It was not a glitch, the woman on the line had to explain gently, if this news can ever land gently: The man St Clair thought of as her brother only shared enough DNA with her to be a half-sibling. In fact, she didn’t match any family members on her father’s side. Her biological father must be someone else.
The emphatic takeaway is that the opposite of addiction is connection. Beating the disease is fundamentally about preempting the point where you lose the freedom to choose: Don’t hold the drink in your hand; don’t go to the party where you know exactly what will go down. In the moment before the bad decision, Brand urged, “you have to make the commitment to call someone who can be your North Star. Someone who is not spellbound in that moment. Someone who can tell you the problem you’re trying to escape is still going to be there, and it’s not going to work, and you’re gonna feel like shit afterward. This is why we need people further down the path, so they can hold our shit as we grow.”
Currently, there is no cure for Type 1 diabetes, but it can be treated successfully by administering insulin, either by an injection or pump, and by following a healthy, balanced diet and getting regular physical activity. Looking after diabetes requires planning and attention, which may feel overwhelming at times, especially when your child is first diagnosed. However, there’s no reason for it to stop your child living the healthy, happy and successful life you had hoped for them.
Dr. Fung says he decided to experiment with intermittent fasting because he was frustrated seeing so many diabetic patients with kidney failure. “It occurred to me that fasting was an underutilized therapeutic option for losing weight,” he recalls. “I started doing this five years ago, and a lot of people got incredibly good results – it reversed their diabetes.”
Without insulin, that extra sugar starts to hang out in your blood with nowhere to go. Just like with honey or sweet syrup, high concentrations of sugar causes the blood to thicken. Physiologically, this pulls fluids and water from other parts of the body into the bloodstream, causing swelling and dryness. Early symptoms of diabetes are relatively mild, including excessive peeing, dry mouth, itchy skin, hunger, fatigue, and blurred vision.
In patients with type 2 diabetes, stress, infection, and medications (such as corticosteroids) can also lead to severely elevated blood sugar levels. Accompanied by dehydration, severe blood sugar elevation in patients with type 2 diabetes can lead to an increase in blood osmolality (hyperosmolar state). This condition can worsen and lead to coma (hyperosmolar coma). A hyperosmolar coma usually occurs in elderly patients with type 2 diabetes. Like diabetic ketoacidosis, a hyperosmolar coma is a medical emergency. Immediate treatment with intravenous fluid and insulin is important in reversing the hyperosmolar state. Unlike patients with type 1 diabetes, patients with type 2 diabetes do not generally develop ketoacidosis solely on the basis of their diabetes. Since in general, type 2 diabetes occurs in an older population, concomitant medical conditions are more likely to be present, and these patients may actually be sicker overall. The complication and death rates from hyperosmolar coma is thus higher than in diabetic ketoacidosis.
Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD, is a U.S. board-certified Anatomic Pathologist with subspecialty training in the fields of Experimental and Molecular Pathology. Dr. Stöppler's educational background includes a BA with Highest Distinction from the University of Virginia and an MD from the University of North Carolina. She completed residency training in Anatomic Pathology at Georgetown University followed by subspecialty fellowship training in molecular diagnostics and experimental pathology.
People with diabetes can benefit from education about the disease and treatment, good nutrition to achieve a normal body weight, and exercise, with the goal of keeping both short-term and long-term blood glucose levels within acceptable bounds. In addition, given the associated higher risks of cardiovascular disease, lifestyle modifications are recommended to control blood pressure.
People with full-blown type 2 diabetes are not able to use the hormone insulin properly, and have what’s called insulin resistance. Insulin is necessary for glucose, or sugar, to get from your blood into your cells to be used for energy. When there is not enough insulin — or when the hormone doesn’t function as it should — glucose accumulates in the blood instead of being used by the cells. This sugar accumulation may lead to the aforementioned complications.