A recent study shows that diabetes drugs are not only beneficial for the targeted disease, it can also lower the risk of heart failure and renal disease. Here are a few new research findings on diabetes research.

1. Diabetes drugs diminish risk of heart failure and renal disease

In another study, SGLT2 inhibitors have been demonstrated to reduce the risk of a very important cardiovascular condition - heart failure. Heart failure continues to be one of the leading causes of mortality globally.

The results from the study showed that patients with type 2 diabetes who took canagliflozin had a 33% lower risk of hospitalisation for heart failure.

SGLT2 inhibitors have another salient benefit - their ability to significantly lower the risk of renal disease. The patients in the study were also found to have reduced risk by 14% for cardiovascular disease and 40% for "serious kidney decline".

The diminished risk of cardiovascular and renal disease is likely to be a consequence of these drugs extruding excess glucose from the body. This therefore reduces vascular complications such as atheroma formation, arterial stenosis and hypertension.

2. BCG vaccine may potentially reverse type 1 diabetes

Recently, researchers have found a revolutionary use for the Bacillus Calmette-Guerin (BCG) vaccine, which has been traditionally employed for protection against tuberculosis.

The main aetiology of type 1 diabetes is autoimmune in nature, which involves immune cells such as antibodies initiating destruction of beta cells in the pancreas. The BCG vaccine has been demonstrated to halt this process by increasing the numbers of regulatory T cells which counteract the autoimmune destruction of pancreatic islet cells.

“Repeat BCG vaccination appears to permanently turn on signature Treg genes,” said Denise Faustman, the principal conductor of the research. “… the vaccine's beneficial effect on host immune response recapitulates decades of human co-evolution with mycobacteria, a relationship that has been lost with modern eating and living habits.”

These new discoveries in relation to diabetes mellitus show great potential for revising current treatment regimens for diabetes. The preventative effects of the BCG vaccine against type 1 diabetes can also reduce the debilitating effects of this disease and therefore reduce overall prevalence of diabetes.

3. Life-threatening ketoacidosis a potential side-effect of diabetes drug

Diabetic ketoacidosis is a life-threatening emergency which requires expeditious treatment with insulin and fluid replenishment. Its clinical manifestations include elevated respiratory rate, vomiting, muscle weakness and overwhelming fatigue.

Typically, this condition is generally a concern with patients with type 1 diabetes, however ketoacidosis has been noted in Type 2 diabetics treated with SGLT2 inhibitors.

The research study compared SGLT2 inhibitors with DPP-4 inhibitors – the findings revealed that SGLT2 inhibitors were twice as likely to induce diabetic ketoacidosis in comparison to DPP-4 inhibitors.

A statistic suggests that approximately between five to eight individuals for every 1,000 individuals given SGLT2 inhibitors will develop diabetic ketoacidosis. Whilst the overall incidences of diabetic ketoacidosis are low, Dr. Michael Fralick, one of the study authors, believes that the actual number may be higher than the study’s findings.

“This is a side effect that's usually seen in patients with type 1 diabetes mellitus - not type 2 - so doctors are not 'on the lookout' for it,” explained Fralick.

“That means that the risk of this side effect might actually be even higher than what we found due to misdiagnosis/under recording.” MIMS

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