Glucose Control without Risk of Hypoglycemia through New Drug

by Mark Benson on March 5, 2012

New drug for blood glucose management

According to the latest statistics, half of those suffering from Type 2 diabetes are able to keep their blood sugar levels at normal levels. A new drug though provides hope in proper management of glucose levels for Type 2 diabetics.

The drug is called TAK-875 and works by boosting the release of insulin from pancreatic B cells. The downside to current medication is that this may lead to hypoglycemia or having too low blood sugar levels. With the drug, this issue is addressed as the pancreatic B cells are only spurred to action when glucose and fatty acids increase in the bloodstream, especially after a meal.

The new treatment has the same effect as glimepiride but without the dangerous side effect. This was found after a randomized phase 2 trial results that were published in the Lancet.

This kind of diabetes accounts for ninety percent of all diabetics in the United States, roughly totaling 150 million people. Because of diet and lifestyle, the body is unable to respond to insulin that result in high blood sugar and other complications.

The science behind this is that a free fatty acid receptor 1, also known as G protein-coupled receptor 40 or GPR40. These receptors play a role in regulating and stimulating production of insulin. This boosts the release of pancreatic beta cells when glucose and fat rise in the bloodstream. When this happens, the medication causes blood glucose levels to fall rapidly through activation of the FFAR1 receptors that allow increased releases of insulin to control blood sugar levels.

TAK-875 is designed to enhance insulin production dependent on the glucose levels. This means when glucose levels are normal, the medicine does not affect insulin secretion. This action results in greater control without dangers of having too low blood sugar levels.

According to Charles Burant MD, PhD, Professor of Internal Medicine at the University of Michigan Health System, the study assigned 426 patients suffering from Type 2 diabetes. These individuals were unable to control glucose levels through exercise, diet or medication. They were prescribed with one of five doses of TAK-875, a placebo or the conventional diabetes medication namely glimepiride. The measuring stick of the effect of the treatments would be the hemoglobin A1c levels of the individual participants.

After twelve weeks, all individuals taking TAK-875 found significant decreases in HbA1c compared to the placebo group. Those taking glimepiride had similar decreases in HbA1c levels. Furthermore, incidences of hypoglycemia were lower compared to those taking glimepiride. Only two percent of the TAK-875 group experienced hypoglycemia while those taking glimepiride had nineteen percent. This hypoglycemia incidence levels was similar to the placebo group, which also only had two percent.

According to the study authors, “In view of the frequent hypoglycaemia after treatment with sulfonylureas, the low-risk of hypoglycemia after treatment with TAK-875 suggests that there may be therapeutic advantage of targeting FFAR1 in treating people with type 2 diabetes. We are truly excited about the potential of TAK-875 and are eager to conduct larger trials to find out how well this drug works, how safe it is and what its place is in the treatment of diabetes. TAK-875 significantly improved glycaemic control in patients with type 2 diabetes with minimum risk of hypoglycemia. The results show that activation of FFAR1 is a viable therapeutic target for treatment of type 2 diabetes.”

The opinions expressed in this article do not necessarily reflect the views of the Community and should not be interpreted as medical advice. Please see your doctor before making any changes to your diabetes management plan.

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