Diabetes Pill Given FDA Okay: Could Diabetes Be Autoimmune Disorder?

okayed a new diabetes pill today, Tradjenta, which is manufactured by Boehringer Ingelheim and Elly Lilly. This drug is used to help control blood sugar levels in people with Type 2 Diabetes, not Type 1.

Diabetes has been making lots of headlines lately. Type 2 diabetes, like Type 1 diabetes, may be an autoimmune disease, according to new research out of Stanford University. In the U.S. alone, diabetes affects 25.8 million people or 8.3 percent of the U.S. population. If indeed Type 2 diabetes is an autoimmune disorder. this could be a huge breakthrough in the treatment of the disease.  Autoimmune disorders result when the body’s immune response mistakenly reacts, or overreacts, to other naturally occurring tissues or substances within the body and attacks healthy cells. While in most instances the body attacks foreign pathogens to fight disease, the body attacks itself in an autoimmune disorder. Diabetes drug manufactures and doctors may do an about-face if more research backs up this theory. Much of the diabetes drugs on the market are targeted towards stabilizing blood sugar levels.

As the Stanford news explains, “Nearly all type-2 diabetes drugs marketed today are designed to control a patient’s high blood sugar levels — a symptom of the body’s inability to respond properly to insulin. However, the researchers found that anti-CD20, which targets and eliminates mature B cells, could completely head off the development of type-2 diabetes in laboratory mice prone to the disorder and restore their blood sugar levels to normal. The researchers believe that insulin resistance arises when the B cells and other immune cells react against the body’s own tissues.”

Ultimately, the researchers say this study is a breakthrough, but it is just preliminary. The best bet to controlling diabetes is through a healthy diet and regular exercise program.

Did You Know?

  • Currently, diabetes is the leading cause of blindness in the U.S., accounting for 12,000 to 24,000 new cases per year
  • Diabetes is the 7th leading cause of death
  • Diabetes is the foremost cause of kidney failure, accounting for 44 percent of new cases in 2005.
  • In number terms, it affects 23.6 million children and adults which is 7.8 percent of the total population.
  • 57 million Americans have a condition called “pre-diabetes” that can develop into full-fledged Diabetes unless diet and exercise-related lifestyle changes are made.

Because obesity is a risk factor for developing Diabetes, as our nation’s collective weight continues to increase, so do incidence rates of Diabetes. Other complications associated with diabetes include visual impairment, nerve damage, poor circulation in the hands and feet that may lead to amputations, sexual dysfunction and skin issues.  Diabetes can also put you at a higher risk for heart disease and bone and joint disorders.

Types of Diabetes: Though Diabetes Mellitus is the general name for the disease, there are actually three different types of this metabolic disorder. 

Diabetes Type 1, formerly called “juvenile diabetes” or “insulin dependent diabetes,” is usually diagnosed in children, teenagers or young adults, but can also occur later in life. Diabetes Type 1 only accounts for about 5 percent of all Diabetes cases.  This type of Diabetes is an autoimmune disease of the pancreas, where the body’s immune system attacks and destroys the cells responsible for making insulin. People with Type 1 Diabetes must take insulin shots or wear an insulin pump to substitute for the missing insulin from their pancreas.

Diabetes Type 2, the most common form among Americans, is also referred to as “noninsulin dependent diabetes,” or “adult onset” diabetes, though the latter term is misleading since its prevalence is on the rise among children. In this form, the pancreas still produces insulin, however insulin resistance occurs causing glucose to accumulate in the blood rather than get taken up by the cells. People at risk for type 2 diabetes include those who are overweight or obese, inactive, people with family history, low HDL, high blood pressure, high triglycerides, women who had gestational diabetes during pregnancy, or who had a baby weighing 9 lbs. or more at birth, and certain racial and ethnic groups.

Gestational Diabetes occurs in women who are pregnant. About 3 to 10 percent of pregnant women develop gestational diabetes. It usually only spans the length of pregnancy, though can put women at risk for developing diabetes later in life.

Symptoms of Diabetes

  • Frequent urination
  • Blurred vision
  • Unusual thirst
  • Involuntary weight loss
  • Recurring skin, gum, or bladder infection
  • Tingling or numbness in hands and feet.

Be aware that people living with diabetes can also be asymptomatic, so routine doctor visits are important to screen your blood and be evaluated for risk factors.

Diabetes Prevention: All of us can lower our risk of developing Type 2 diabetes by:

Plus, learn how Vitamin D may help diabetes.


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