Coming Soon: Once-a-Week Insulin Injections?

By Denise Mann
HealthDay reporter

MONDAY, March 22, 2021 (HealthDay News) – Daily insulin injections can be the bane of life for people with type 2 diabetes, but an experimental insulin injection once a week can be a game-changer for these people .

While research is still in its early stages, the new drug called basal insulin Fc (BIF) is given once a week and appears to be just as effective in controlling blood sugar (glucose) levels as insulin degludec, the standard- or once a week. blow day.

The once-a-week vaccine is as safe as insulin degludec and may be more effective in reducing the risk of hypoglycemia (dangerous low blood sugar levels) throughout the day and night, the drug has shown. new study.

The main benefit of insulin once a week is that more people will be willing to comply with treatment, said Dr. John Buse, chief endocrinology officer and director of the Diabetes Center at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Better compliance prevents complications of diabetes, including heart disease, vision loss and kidney problems, he added.

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“That’s 52 injections per year instead of 365-700+,” said Buse, who was not in the new study. “On the 100th anniversary of the discovery of insulin, it is amazing to see continued innovation in the field of insulin therapy”.

Insulin degludec and BIF are long-acting forms of basal or background insulin. They control blood sugar between meals and are released 24 hours a day. Some types of basal insulin are given twice a day. In contrast, bolus insulin is given after meals and at other times when blood sugar levels are rising. Insulin injections once a week would not eliminate the need to monitor blood sugar and take more insulin as needed.

The 32-week study included nearly 400 people with type 2 diabetes, the form of the disease most closely linked to obesity. Participants were assigned to one of three treatment groups: weekly injections of BIF at one of the two doses or once daily injections of insulin degludec.

Blood sugar control was similar for people who received a weekly injection and for those who took daily injections as measured by hemoglobin A1C. This gives an overview of blood sugar levels over the past two or three months.

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In addition, weekly injections resulted in significantly lower rates of hypoglycemia.

“Daily insulin concentrations are more stable with weekly injection and this improvement likely leads to less hypoglycemia,” said study author Dr. Juan Pablo Frias, medical director of the National Research Institute in Los Angeles.

This was a phase 2 study, which means the new drug has a way to go before, or if it reaches consumers. But if things go as planned, it could be available by 2023, Frias said. The once-a-week insulin vaccine is being developed by Eli Lilly and Co, who funded the new study.

The results were presented on Sunday at the Endocrine Society’s virtual annual meeting. Results presented at medical meetings are considered preliminary until published in a peer-reviewed journal.

More research is needed to confirm these results, but weekly injections could be especially important for people with diabetes who have difficulty managing their medications, including the elderly, people with memory impairment, and people. with physical disabilities that may interfere with taking daily doses, said Dr. Deena Adimoolam, a New York physician and spokesperson for the Endocrine Society.

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“Many patients with insulin-dependent type 2 diabetes have a complicated drug regimen to follow each day with different uses of insulin, other injectables and oral medications,” said Adimoolam, who was not involved. looking. “Basal insulin which is available as an injection once a week would be a much easier option for patients than remembering to take basal insulin every day.”

Buse agreed. “It is heartwarming to consider the possibility that many more people could benefit from this cheaper insulin to stay healthy,” he said.

More information

To learn more about diabetes and its treatments, visit the Endocrine Society.

SOURCES: Juan Pablo Frias, MD, medical director, National Research Institute, Los Angeles; John B. Buse, MD, PhD, Chief, Division of Endocrinology, Professor Emeritus Verne S. Caviness, Director, Diabetes Center, Director, Institute of Translational and Clinical Sciences NC, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill; Deena Adimoolam, MD, endocrinologist, New York and spokesperson, Endocrine Society; Endocrine Society Virtual Annual Meeting, March 20-23, 2021

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