Effective treatment of type 1 diabetes requires a lifetime commitment to carefully monitor and control blood sugar levels, making it a challenging medical condition that demands constant attention and care. This blog will provide insight into current strategies and research advancements for the treatment of type 1 diabetes. All strategies should be first discussed with a doctor.
Type 1 diabetes is a complex and chronic autoimmune disorder that impacts the body’s ability to maintain healthy blood sugar levels. Glucose is the primary energy source for living things, making it a ‘near-universal food for life’. Without insulin unlocking entry pathways into cells, the body stops receiving the fuel it needs to function.
Although type 1 diabetes was previously called juvenile diabetes, about half of new cases of type 1 diabetes each year are diagnosed in older adults.
Unlike type 2 diabetes, which is often associated with lifestyle factors, type 1 diabetes can be triggered by factors beyond one’s control, such as certain viral infections. Due to an autoimmune malfunction, the body mistakes its own cells for foreign invaders. It then deploys the immune system to begin destroying vital cells in the pancreas, known as beta cells. Beta cells are needed for the production of insulin, which is responsible for transporting glucose (sugar) from the bloodstream into cells.
Living with a chronic condition requires a broad holistic approach and current treatment of type 1 diabetes is multifaceted. Daily management involves a combination of factors such as monitoring blood sugar levels, adjusting insulin doses, making dietary choices, engaging in regular physical activity, managing stress, and seeking regular medical check-ups to build more effective communication with healthcare providers for tailored patient care.
The current mainstay treatments for type 1 diabetes are primarily insulin administration coupled with technologies which aid in day-to-day monitoring and decision-making. Type 1 diabetes sufferers should always discuss treatment options with a doctor. By remaining vigilant and with the right type 1 diabetes treatments, a high quality of life is possible.
People often receive a diagnosis of type 1 diabetes after a blood sugar spike due to a drop in insulin-producing cells. Current treatments for type 1 diabetes aim to prevent the following blood sugar-related emergencies from arising:
Among type 1 diabetes medications, insulin created through biotechnology processes plays a primary role. Insulin treatment in the past has sometimes struggled to replicate the body’s natural blood sugar regulation system effectively due to challenges in achieving the same level of precision in insulin release, especially in response to minute fluctuations in blood sugar.
Implantable insulin pumps can provide continuous insulin delivery more conveniently than external devices. This may potentially minimize stress and reduce the need for hypervigilant self-monitoring.
Advanced insulin variants are currently being researched with a focus on the development of improved formulations, including ultra-rapid-acting insulins and more stable long-acting insulins. These innovations aim to provide better blood sugar control and greater flexibility in treatment.
Continuous glucose monitoring (CGM) technology is improving. Newer CGM systems aim to be more accurate and provide more data, enabling better tracking of blood sugar trends and making it easier for individuals to make informed decisions about their insulin dosages and lifestyle adjustments.
Artificial pancreas systems use continuous glucose monitoring (CGM) to measure blood sugar levels in real-time and adjust insulin delivery through a type 1 diabetes insulin pump automatically. This technology aims to maintain blood sugar levels within a target range without the need for constant manual intervention.
Advancing beyond the artificial pancreas, are fully automated AID systems which can help manage blood sugar levels. These systems consistently administer insulin based on sensor data, effectively regulating basal insulin levels between meals and during sleep. However, these may struggle to provide precise control when dealing with fluctuations caused by factors like meals, physical activity, stress, and sleep patterns. Individuals still need to adjust these devices prior to meals and exercise. If done incorrectly, this can result in either hypoglycemia or hyperglycemia. A fully automated system would ideally minimize user error by managing insulin on its own without needing any input from the user. It would automatically figure out how much insulin is needed throughout the day, including before meals, to keep blood sugar levels stable. Ongoing research and development is underway to improve the capabilities of currently available automated systems to handle this complexity more effectively.
Diabetes is a complex chronic condition requiring collaborative care. Chronically elevated blood sugar levels can lead to progressive damage to vital organs and tissues over time, significantly increasing the risk of cardiovascular diseases, kidney dysfunction, nerve damage, and vision problems. Regular check-ups and screenings can help detect issues like retinopathy (vision problems), nephropathy (kidney dysfunction), and neuropathy (nerve damage) before they progress to more severe stages.
Ensuring effective communication with healthcare teams is essential for identifying and preventing these long-term complications. Tailored patient care is an ongoing process across the patient’s lifespan. The dynamic nature of diabetes can make it challenging to maintain consistent and coordinated care, especially if healthcare access is limited.
Telemedicine and remote monitoring are available and enable healthcare providers to monitor and adjust treatment plans remotely, potentially providing more convenient and accessible care options for individuals with type 1 diabetes and is supporting the modern development of a patient-centric model of care.
Ongoing advancements in type 1 diabetes treatments and technology are providing more personalized, patient-centric, convenient, and effective care.
Patient engagement and education advancements include digital platforms and mobile apps offering tracking features, educational materials, and community support features, facilitating individuals to actively engage in their diabetes management.
These innovations aim to make diabetes management less burdensome, reduce the risk of complications, and improve the overall quality of life for individuals.
A type 1 diabetes cure is a challenging research endeavor and has not yet been developed. Some of the current diabetes research aims to address the limitations of current treatment options for type 1 diabetes by potentially restoring beta cell functions and the body’s natural production of insulin.
Currently, technologies such as stem cell therapy, gene therapy, and immunotherapy are being explored in a research setting, with the objective of modifying the immune system’s response and potentially slowing or stopping the autoimmune attack on insulin-producing cells in type 1 diabetes.
These therapeutic approaches in development aim to prevent or reverse the damage that has already occurred to surviving beta cells or replace cells that have been lost.
The management of type 1 diabetes has shifted towards a more patient-centric model, emphasizing continuous blood sugar monitoring, lifestyle adjustments, and the incorporation of cutting-edge insulin therapies and glucose monitoring technologies. These advancements not only enhance patient autonomy but also streamline the constant vigilance required in daily type 1 diabetes management. Digital healthcare tools may further support this personalized approach, improving self-management and ensuring effective communication with healthcare providers for tailored patient care.
Amidst these developments, an increase of research in technologies holds the potential to alter type 1 diabetes treatment by aiming to restore pancreatic function or prevent the autoimmune reactions that characterize the condition. This research signals a future where the daily challenges of type 1 diabetes may be alleviated.
For individuals with type 1 diabetes, caregivers, and their physicians looking for more information on the latest clinical research trials, myTomorrows provides the possibility to discover treatment options by offering a free search and support service for patients, caregivers, and physicians.
The myTomorrows platform offers access to clinical trial information that patients and their physicians can discuss thoroughly, weighing the risks and benefits, before deciding if applying for a clinical trial is right for them.
To learn more about possible clinical trials and to get help finding clinical trials for type 1 diabetes, patients, carers and physicians can contact us here.
The information in this blog is not intended as a substitute for a medical consultation. Always consult a doctor before receiving a diagnosis or treatment.
The myTomorrows team
Anthony Fokkerweg 61-2
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myTomorrows Team 30 Nov 2023