New Diabetes Treatment Could Replace Daily Insulin Injections

Woman giving herself an insulin injection
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A new procedure developed by Dutch scientists could put an end to the process of going through daily insulin injections for people who live with diabetes.

In what could be a huge medical breakthrough, the hour-long procedure works by destroying the mucous membrane in the small intestine so that a new one can develop, which allows researches to stabilize the blood sugar levels of people suffering from type 2 diabetes, The Guardian reports. The chief scientists said they came across the “spectacular” results rather unexpectedly.

So far, the new, experimental procedure has been used on 50 patients in Amsterdam, The Netherlands. It included having to insert a tube with a small balloon in its end through the person’s mouth all the way down to the small intestine. The balloon is then inflated with hot water, which causes the mucous membrane to burn due to the heat. A new membrane takes around two weeks to develop, and it is said to improve the patient’s health massively, as 90 percent of the patients found that their disease was stable even a year after the treatment.

“Because of this treatment the use of insulin can be postponed or perhaps prevented. That is promising,” said professor of gastroenterology at Amsterdam UMC, Jacques Bergman.

Diabetes flyer
The new discovery could change the lives of millions of people living with type 2 diabetes. Tashatuvango / Shutterstock

Scientists believe that nutrient absorption by the mucous membrane in the small intestine and the development of a higher resistance to insulin are connected among people struggling with type 2 diabetes. Bergman also added that it was observed that “people suffer very little from” the procedure in itself.

“With those people we see a spectacular improvement in blood sugar levels one day after the operation, before they even lose one kilo, which has put us on the track. Because the question now is whether this is a permanent treatment, or whether it is something that you have to keep repeating – something that in theory should be possible,” he told Dutch broadcaster Nederlandse Omroep Stichting.

“We looked at whether we could stop their insulin, which is still ongoing, but the first results are truly spectacular, with the lion’s share of patients no longer using insulin after this treatment.”

Type 2 diabetes sufferers cannot produce enough insulin on their own. According to The Guardian, the new finding is more suitable for borderline patients who take pills but were also advised by doctors to take insulin as their blood sugar level was too high. Scientists claimed such patients could also benefit from a lower risk of cardiovascular disease, kidney failure, and blindness. Around 100 people between the ages of 28 and 75 are now being recruited for a second, larger study.