Novel treatment of diabetes without drugs reports success

April 8, 2022
Novel treatment of diabetes without drugs reports success

A non-invasive ultrasound treatment in three separate animal models of type 2 diabetes has yielded successful results and could guide the development of an at-home diabetic treatment one day. The unique method was developed by a team of researchers from the Yale School of Medicine, the University of California-Los Angeles, and the Feinstein Institutes for Medical Research – it is designed to stimulate specific sensory nerves in the liver tissue, called the porta hepatis, using peripheral focused ultrasound stimulation (pFUS).

“This region contains the hepatoportal nerve plexus, which communicates information on glucose and nutrient status to the brain but has been difficult to study as its nerve structures are too small to separately stimulate with implanted electrodes,” the researchers said.

However, short, targeted bursts of pFUS at this area of the liver was noticed to reverse the onset of hyperglycaemia. The researchers found just three minutes of focused ultrasound each day was enough to maintain normal blood glucose levels in diabetic mice, rats, and pigs. Studies in humans are currently underway to work out whether this method translates from animal studies.

While current tools used to perform ultrasound neuromodulation techniques require trained expertise, the researchers are looking into how the technology could be used by patients at home. “… wearable ultrasound probes have minimised the need for manual handling of the probe during use, and automated anatomical target detection software is now available to enable target tracking in real time using convolution neural-network models.”

“These advances may enable the development of novel wearable ultrasound systems that can be applied by unskilled users, and further enable use across clinical applications and settings,” the researchers said.

Christopher Puleo, senior biomedical engineer at General Electric (GE) Research, part of the company that funded this study, thinks novel non-pharmaceutical methods could replace a number of drug treatments from diabetes to other metabolic conditions.

“We’re now in the midst of human feasibility trials with a group of type 2 diabetic subjects, which begins our work toward clinical translation,” Puleo said. “The use of ultrasound could be a game-changer in how bioelectronic medicines are used and applied to disease, such as type 2 diabetes, in the future.”

The GE Research team said further preclinical studies have been conducted exploring different ultrasound doses and durations. Initial human studies have also begun, with preliminary results expected later this year.

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Category: Education, Features

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