Tag Archives: type 2 diabetes

Electromagnetic fields treat type 2 diabetes in mice

Credit: Pxfuel.

The only options available to patients for managing their type 2 diabetes are pills and injections. These can have unpleasant side effects and can sometimes be cumbersome to perform. In the future, perhaps a third option may be available, centered around electromagnetic fields that can regulate blood sugar. According to a new study, this non-invasive type of treatment was successful in mice with diabetes.

A remote control for managing diabetes

Calvin Carter, a postdoc at the University of Iowa, was working with mice for a totally unrelated study of the effects of electromagnetic fields (EMF) on the brain and behavior of animals. His colleague Sunny Huang asked Carter to borrow some mice for his Ph.D. project, which required him to practice drawing blood and measuring blood sugar levels.

The mice that Carter used in his experiments all had type 2 diabetes, so they should have high blood sugar. But Huang was shocked to find the mice had normal blood sugar levels.

“That’s what sparked this project,” Carter said. “Early on, we recognized that if the findings held up, they could have a major impact on diabetes care.”

Although they’re invisible, electromagnetic fields are all around us all the time, whether it’s artificial EMFs generated by mobile devices or natural ones generated by electric charges in the atmosphere.

Sometimes these EMFs can influence biological mechanisms. You’ve probably heard all sorts of rumors and conspiracies about 5G and the wireless network’s potential harms to our health. Some have gone as far as saying the current coronavirus pandemic has been triggered by 5G networks. That’s just ridiculous and false, as we previously showed.

But that doesn’t mean other types of EMFs don’t have a biological effect. Birds, turtles, whales, and many other migratory animals can sense the Earth’s electromagnetic field in order to orient themselves for navigation.

While reviewing scientific literature published during the 1970s, Carter stumbled upon some studies that pointed to quantum biological phenomena whereby EMFs may interact with certain molecules.

“There are molecules in our bodies that are thought to act like tiny magnetic antenna, enabling a biological response to EMFs,” Carter says. “Some of these molecules are oxidants, which are studied in redox biology, an area of research that deals with the behavior of electrons and reactive molecules that govern cellular metabolism.”

Carter and colleagues at the University of Ohio and Brigham Young University probed the action of an oxidant molecule known as superoxide, which was previously identified as playing a role in type 2 diabetes.

When superoxide molecules were removed by researchers from the livers of mice, the effects of EMFs on blood sugar and the insulin response were blocked. What’s more, experiments suggest that EMFs alter the signaling of superoxide molecules, prolonging the activation of an antioxidant response and rebalancing the response to insulin.

“Exposure to electromagnetic fields (EMFs) for relatively short periods reduces blood sugar and normalizes the body’s response to insulin. The effects are long-lasting, opening the possibility of an EMF therapy that can be applied during sleep to manage diabetes all day.”

These findings are quite fantastic, but can they be translated to humans? After all, animal studies are often poor predictors of responses in humans. However, experiments performed on human liver cells that were treated with EMFs for six hours also showed that a surrogate marker for insulin sensitivity improved drastically. This lends some hope that it may be indeed possible to translate this therapy to humans.

According to the World Health Organization, low-energy EMFs are considered safe for human health, and Carter and colleagues found no evidence of any adverse effects in the mice used in the study. Nevertheless, the researchers plan to repeat these experiments on pigs, whose hearts and cardiovascular system more closely resemble those of humans. If all goes well, they plan to commence clinical trials that may show that magnetic fields can treat type 2 diabetes in humans.

“This project is so out there and so unique. It’s not really something you see, even in science these days,” Huang said. “I think being grounded in evidence and also having the backing of these reputable institutions is a testament to the fact that this is real and there are really interesting things going on here.”

The findings appeared in the journal Cell.

Electromagnetic fields could be used to manage, maybe even treat, type 2 diabetes

A new study reports that the symptoms of type 2 diabetes could be managed through a few hours’ worth of exposure to magnetic fields every day — in mice, at least.

Image credits Flickr / Tebo Steele.

Exposure to magnetic and static electric fields for a few hours can keep blood sugar levels in check without the need for medication or direct intervention, the paper explains. Type 2 diabetes is characterized by unsafe levels of sugars in the blood, and as such, the methods described in this study can help manage the condition.

For now, the findings have only been confirmed in lab mice, so we still don’t know if they hold true for humans as well. However, the team is hopeful that they do, which will provide us with a new, non-invasive means of managing the disease, especially for patients who are having trouble with current treatment options.

Healy-o-magnetic

“We’ve built a remote control to manage diabetes,” says Calvin Carter, PhD, one of the study’s lead authors from the University of Iowa (UI) Carver College of Medicine.

“Exposure to electromagnetic fields (EMFs) for relatively short periods reduces blood sugar and normalizes the body’s response to insulin. The effects are long-lasting, opening the possibility of an EMF therapy that can be applied during sleep to manage diabetes all day.”

EMFs can alter the balance of oxidants and antioxidant compounds in the liver, the study showed, which can improve our body’s response to insulin (a sugar-regulating hormone). This response is likely mediated by molecules with electromagnetic properties that act as tiny “antennae”, the authors believe.

The findings were ‘a happy accident’, with the effect of EMFs on blood sugar levels discovered while Sunny Huang, the co-lead author on the paper, was analyzing their effect on the brain and behavior of mice. He noticed that all the animals exposed to EMFs showed normal blood sugar levels, despite being genetically-engineered to have type 2 diabetes. The team was quickly able to tie these abnormal readings to EMF exposure prior to the analysis.

Carter and Huang later developed a device that can wirelessly generate static magnetic and electric fields to see if it could modulate blood sugar levels in three of the genetically-modified mice — and it did. These fields are roughly 100 times stronger than those naturally generated by the Earth. Furthermore, mice who were exposed to these fields while they slept also saw their insulin resistance reversed in only three days of treatment.

The study helps us better understand how EMFs can interact with biological systems. Such fields are very common in today’s world, as they’re employed to transmit data wirelessly — for example in navigation or telecommunications.

The team explains that they found EMFs to interact with superoxide molecules in our bodies, but those in the liver specifically, leading to a heightened antioxidant response which in turn affects the effectiveness of insulin.

“When we remove superoxide molecules from the liver, we completely block the effect of the EMFs on blood sugar and on the insulin response. The evidence suggests that superoxide plays an important role in this process,” Carter adds.

The researchers also exposed human liver cells to EMFs for six hours and, through the use of an insulin surrogate marker, showed that they would likely produce similar anti-diabetic effects in human patients. The team is now working on a larger-scale test to see if EMFs would work the same in animals closer in size and physiology to humans.

The paper “Exposure to Static Magnetic and Electric Fields Treats Type 2 Diabetes” has been published in the journal Cell Metabolism.

Diabetes rising worldwide: one in 11 adults affected

Diabetes is one of the world’s fastest growing chronic diseases with over 463 million adults (that’s 1 in 11 adults) around the world living with this chronic medical condition according to new data published in the 9th Edition of the International Diabetes Federation (IDF) Diabetes Atlas. The latest Atlas also reports that the global prevalence of diabetes has reached 9.3%, with more than half (50.1%) of adults undiagnosed. A further 1.1 million children and adolescents under the age of 20, live with type 1 diabetes.

A decade ago, in 2010, the global projection for diabetes in 2025 was 438 million. With over five years still to go, that prediction has already been surpassed by 25 million. IDF estimates that there will be 578 million adults with diabetes by 2030, and 700 million by 2045.

Diabetes itself is not a major problem unless the blood glucose is uncontrolled and either rises too high or drops too low. If diabetes is not managed correctly (meaning blood glucose is not properly regulated), sufferers are likely to become progressively sick and debilitated.

Over time, diabetes can damage the heart, blood vessels, kidneys, eyes and nerves. For diabetics, maintaining blood sugar levels in a normal range — not too high or too low — is a lifelong challenge. Half of the people with diabetes die of cardiovascular disease (primarily heart disease and stroke), and 10–20 percent of people with diabetes die of kidney failure. Diabetes is also a major cause of blindness and lower limb amputation.

IDF estimates that approximately 4.2 million adults will die as a result of diabetes and its complications in 2019. This is equivalent to one death every eight seconds.

Flu season is quickly approaching and patients with diabetes are particularly at high risk of serious flu-related complications that can result in hospitalization or even death. Diabetics are twice as likely to die from heart disease or stroke as people without diabetes and six times more likely to be hospitalized. 

Flu infection can cause changes in blood sugar and prevent people with diabetes from eating properly, which further affects blood glucose. Moreover, diabetes can make the immune system less able to fight infections. Diabetes patients with flu face very serious health risks such as ketoacidosis (a condition when the body cannot use sugar as a fuel source because there is no insulin or not enough insulin) and Hyperosmolar Hyperglycaemic State (HHS).

It is important for people with diabetes to follow the sick day guidelines if they become ill. Flu vaccination is especially important for people with diabetes because they are at high risk of developing serious flu complications. Flu vaccination has also been associated with reduced hospitalizations among people with diabetes (79%). Diabetics who get the flu should ask their doctors about prescription antiviral medications that can ease symptoms and shorten the duration of the illness. For best results, antivirals should be taken within 48 hours of the onset of flu symptoms.

Credit: Pixabay.

Insulin shortage to affect 40 million people by 2030

The rate at which people are developing diabetes has experts worried that we will not be able to keep up with the demand for insulin. According to a new study performed at Stanford University, 40 million people with type 2 diabetes won’t have access to the life-saving hormone by 2030.

Credit: Pixabay.

Credit: Pixabay.

In 1980, around 5% of adults around the globe had diabetes. Today, that figure almost doubled at roughly 9% — and global population has also swollen by another three billion individuals.

Sanjay Basu, Stanford Assistant Professor of Medicine, and colleagues, modeled the prevalence of type 2 diabetes in 221 countries between 2018 and 2030. The historical data that they used for their projections come from 14 studies that involved 60% of all people with type 2 diabetes around the world.

People with type 1 diabetes require supplemental insulin. Those with type 2 diabetes may eventually need insulin, but not necessarily. Type 2 diabetes is associated with obesity, poor diet, and physical inactivity.

The findings suggest that the total number of type 2 diabetes sufferers will increase by 20%, from 406 million in 2018 to 551 million in 2030. Half of these people would come from China (130 million), India (98 million), and the USA (32 million).

The researchers conclude in the journal The Lancet that of all these diabetes patients, 79 million would actually be in need of insulin to manage their diabetes. However, half of them won’t have access to an adequate supply of insulin, considering current trends.

“These estimates suggest that current levels of insulin access are highly inadequate compared to projected need, particularly in Africa and Asia, and more efforts should be devoted to overcoming this looming health challenge,” Basu said in a statement.

“Despite the UN’s commitment to treat non-communicable diseases and ensure universal access to drugs for diabetes, across much of the world insulin is scarce and unnecessarily difficult for patients to access. The number of adults with type 2 diabetes is expected to rise over the next 12 years due to ageing, urbanization, and associated changes in diet and physical activity. Unless governments begin initiatives to make insulin available and affordable, then its use is always going to be far from optimal.”

Having an accurate projection for insulin demand is important in order to mitigate healthcare risks. The issue is amplified by the fact that the treatment for diabetes is also highly costly — something that may be driven by business interests rather than free market forces. Only three manufacturers control most of the insulin supply of the world, all of which were accused of conspiring to hike prices intentionally. Between 2002 and 2013, the price of insulin tripled although there were only minimal increases in costs associated with the development of the treatment. The authors caution that unless governments intervene to make insulin more accessible and affordable, a huge number of people could risk not having access to life-saving treatment in the future.

“These comprehensive analyses explicitly accounted for a variety of circumstances. Nevertheless, they are based on mathematical models that are in turn based on other mathematical models. They are also based on a variety of assumptions… Such considerations suggest that predictions about the future need to be viewed cautiously. Regardless of these uncertainties, insulin is likely to maintain its place as a crucial therapy for type 2 diabetes, and as such a sufficient global supply needs to be estimated and ensured… Ongoing updates to models such as these that incorporate new data and trends as they accrue, may be the most reliable way of assuring their reliability and relevance to evidence-based care,” Dr. Hertzel Gerstein from McMaster University, who was not involved in the study, commented.

A type 2 diabetes drug might treat Alzheimer’s

A three-agent drug used to treat type 2 diabetes mellitus shows significant results for boosting memory and learning skills in aging mice suffering from Alzheimer’s disease.

Neurological degenerative diseases, such as Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, or Huntington’s, share common features with type 2 diabetes mellitus. Aging, high-cholesterol levels, neuronal degeneration, blood vessel abnormalities, increased oxidative stress and increased inflammatory response are some of the shared features.

Source: Pixabay/GDV

Insulin is a pancreatic hormone that allows glucose to pass from the bloodstream through the cell’s membrane. In type 2 diabetes, insulin is still produced, but at lower levels, and some peripheric tissues become resistant to it. This pathology affects all cells, but the neuron is one of the biggest victims of glucose deprivation. The incidence of Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, and other neurological disorders is higher in type 2 diabetes patients, suggesting that they have similar causes of development. This information gave scientists the idea of using diabetic drugs to treat neurological diseases.

The triple agent drug tested on transgenic mice by professor Christian Holscher from Lancaster University contains GLP-1, GIP, and glucagon. GLP-1 and GIP are two incretins, gastrointestinal hormones that increase insulin production and act as brain growth factors.

Via Pixabay/silviarita

The researchers induced mutations in the APP/PS1 genes of the mice, to make them resemble human patients suffering from a form of hereditary Alzheimer’s. Next, scientists tested aging mice who received the antidiabetic treatment in a maze and compared their performances to a group of controls. The results showed that treated mice had enhanced cerebral activity, solving the maze faster than the others. The researchers found higher levels of brain growth factors, reduced amyloid plaques (found in Alzheimer’s), reduced chronic inflammation, reduced oxidative stress, and slowed the rate of brain cell loss.

“These very promising outcomes demonstrate the efficacy of these novel multiple receptor drugs that originally were developed to treat type 2 diabetes but have shown consistent neuro-protective effects in several studies”, said professor Christian Holscher to the Lancaster Guardian journal.

Via Pixabay/qimono

Dr. Doug Brown, Director of Research and Development at Alzheimer’s Society, which co-funded this study, openly supports the research.

“Although the benefits of these ‘triple agonist’ drugs have so far only been found in mice, other studies with existing diabetes drugs such as liraglutide have shown real promise for people with Alzheimer’s, so further development of this work is crucial”, he stated in a press release.

The paper was published in the journal Brain Research on the first day of this year.

Intensive weight management can put type 2 diabetes into remission

After the intensive program, patients lost 10 kg (22 pounds) on average and half of them reverted to a non-diabetic state without any diabetes treatment whatsoever.

Image credits: Tero Vesalainen.

Type 2 diabetes is a chronic, lifelong condition where the body doesn’t produce enough insulin or the cells stop responding to insulin, leading blood sugar to rise to dangerously high levels. Almost 90% percent of the people suffering from it are overweight or obese, and there’s a very tight connection between extra pounds and diabetes. Worldwide, type 2 diabetes incidence has quadrupled, rising from 108 million in 1980 to 422 million in 2014 and showing no sign of stopping. The world is eating unhealthily and it’s paying the price for it. Heavy medication can keep the disease under control, but Scottish researchers had a different idea: if the problem lies in the diet, the solution might also be there. So they implemented an aggressive diet to 298 adults aged 20-65 years who had been diagnosed with type 2 diabetes. Results were encouraging to say the least.

“Our findings suggest that even if you have had type 2 diabetes for 6 years, putting the disease into remission is feasible”, says Professor Michael Lean from the University of Glasgow who co-led the study. “In contrast to other approaches, we focus on the need for long-term maintenance of weight loss through diet and exercise and encourage flexibility to optimise individual results.”

Rather surprisingly, diet and lifestyle are rarely discussed as a treatment for diabetes. Even when they are discussed, the focus is more on what you should and shouldn’t eat, not on how much you should eat. The root cause, unfortunately, is often ignored.

“Rather than addressing the root cause, management guidelines for type 2 diabetes focus on reducing blood sugar levels through drug treatments. Diet and lifestyle are touched upon but diabetes remission by cutting calories is rarely discussed”, explains Professor Roy Taylor from Newcastle University, UK, who co-led the study.

So researchers started by changing the diet of the patients. It wasn’t a simple diet to follow, as they were only allowed to consume 825-853 calories/day for 3 to 5 months — for comparison, sedentary men and women burn around 2,400 and 2,000 calories per day, respectively. After a period, patients were gradually reintroduced to a normal diet. They were also offered support for weight loss maintenance, including cognitive behavioral therapy combined with strategies to increase physical activity. For this entire period, all diabetes and blood pressure-lowering drops were completely stopped.

Image credits: Blue Diamond Gallery.

Interestingly, the program was considered acceptable by most participants. Dropout rate was 21%, but it was mostly caused by social reasons (i.e. moving to a different city or starting a new job). The results were truly impressive.

The average weight loss was 10 kg, but a quarter of participants dropped 15 kg (about 33 pounds) or more. The remission rate was also tightly connected to the weight loss rate. For instance, half of all participants were diabetes-free by the end of the study, but 9 out of 10 participants who lost 15 kg or more went into remission. Researchers note that the patients were white and British, so the same findings may or may not carry on to other types of people.

Even so, the results are truly encouraging, and there is a good chance they do pass on to other populations. The fact that simply losing weight (which also reduces your risk of cancer, cardiovascular diseases, and many other health issues) gives people a great chance of getting rid of diabetes, should give many people hope. Now, all we need to do is convince people to lose weight and not gain it back. Professor Taylor concludes:

“Our findings suggest that the very large weight losses targeted by bariatric surgery are not essential to reverse the underlying processes which cause type 2 diabetes. The weight loss goals provided by this programme are achievable for many people. The big challenge is long-term avoidance of weight re-gain. Follow-up of DiRECT will continue for 4 years and reveal whether weight loss and remission is achievable in the long-term.”

The study was published in The Lancet.