A NIDDK Overview of Diabetes
What Is the Status of Diabetes Research?
NIDDK supports basic and clinical research in
its own laboratories and in research centers and hospitals throughout the
United States. It also gathers and analyzes statistics about diabetes. Other
institutes at the National Institutes of Health also carry out research on
diabetes-related eye diseases, heart and vascular complications, pregnancy, and
Other Government agencies that sponsor
diabetes programs are the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the
Indian Health Service, the Health Resources and Services Administration, the
Bureau of Veterans Affairs, and the Department of Defense.
Many organizations outside of the Government
support diabetes research and education activities. These organizations include
the American Diabetes Association, the Juvenile Diabetes Foundation
International, and the American Association of Diabetes Educators.
In recent years, advances in diabetes
research have led to better ways to manage diabetes and treat its
complications. Major advances include:
New forms of purified insulin, such as human insulin
produced through genetic engineering
Better ways for doctors to monitor blood glucose levels and
for people with diabetes to test their own blood glucose levels at
Development of external and implantable insulin pumps that
deliver appropriate amounts of insulin, replacing daily injections
Laser treatment for diabetic eye disease, reducing the risk
Successful transplantation of kidneys in people whose own
kidneys fail because of diabetes
Better ways of managing diabetic pregnancies, improving
chances of successful outcomes
New drugs to treat type 2 diabetes and better ways to manage
this form of diabetes through weight control
Evidence that intensive management of blood glucose reduces
and may prevent development of microvascular complications of
Demonstration that antihypertensive drugs called
ACE-inhibitors prevent or delay kidney failure in people with
What Will the Future Bring?
In the future, it may be possible to
administer insulin through nasal sprays or in the form of a pill or patch.
Devices that can "read" blood glucose levels without having to prick a
finger to get a blood sample are also being developed.
Researchers continue to search for the cause
or causes of diabetes and ways to prevent and cure the disorder. Scientists are
looking for genes that may be involved in type 2 diabetes and type 1 diabetes.
Some genetic markers for type 1 diabetes have been identified, and it is now
possible to screen relatives of people with type 1 diabetes to see if they are
at risk for diabetes.