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New Treatment Eases Type 2 Diabetes

Experimental Drug Aids in Controlling Blood Sugar Levels

WebMD Health News

Aug. 6, 2003 -- A new type of treatment for type 2 diabetes may help people with the disease control their blood sugar levels better than traditional therapies.

New research shows an experimental drug, called exenatide, can improve blood sugar levels in people who haven't reached optimal levels through diet and other diabetes treatments.

Type 2 diabetes occurs when the pancreas cannot produce enough insulin to meet the body's needs. It can also happen when the body's tissues become resistant to insulin, which causes blood sugar levels to rise above safe levels.

Exenatide is a new kind of type 2 diabetes treatment that has been shown to increase the number of insulin-producing cells in the pancreas in animal studies. It has also been shown to increase the secretion of insulin resulting from elevated sugars. By boosting the number and function of these cells, researchers say the synthetic biological drug helps bring blood sugar levels under control without using insulin injections.

In the study, published in the August issue of Diabetes Care, researchers compared the effects of exenatide in 109 people with type 2 diabetes who were already using diet modifications and/or diabetes drugs, such as Glucophage or sulfonylureas (Glucotrol, Diabinese, and others) to control their blood sugar levels. Patients were randomly assigned into groups that received either a placebo or one of three dosage levels of exenatide given by injection.

After 28 days of treatment, researchers found that adding exenatide to the volunteers' current therapy caused an improvement in blood sugar control over and above levels achieved with their current therapy.

The most common side effect associated with exenatide treatment was nausea, especially at the start of treatment.

Researchers say treating type 2 diabetes with exenatide also had the added benefit of not affecting body weight or cholesterol.

Amylin Pharmaceuticals, the maker of exenatide, funded the study.

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If the level is below 70 or you are experiencing symptoms such as shaking, sweating or difficulty thinking, you will need to raise the number immediately. A quick solution is to eat a few pieces of hard candy or 1 tablespoon of sugar or honey. Recheck your numbers again in 15 minutes to see if the number has gone up. If not, repeat the steps above or call your doctor.

People who experience hypoglycemia several times in a week should call their health care provider. It's important to monitor your levels each day so you can make sure your numbers are within the range. If you are pregnant always consult with your health care provider.

Congratulations on taking steps to manage your health.

However, it's important to continue to track your numbers so that you can make lifestyle changes if needed. If you are pregnant always consult with your physician.

Your level is high if this reading was taken before eating. Aim for 70-130 before meals and less than 180 two hours after meals.

Even if your number is high, it's not too late for you to take control of your health and lower your blood sugar.

One of the first steps is to monitor your levels each day. If you are pregnant always consult with your physician.

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