Top diabetes treatments don’t work in kids and teens

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Taking insulin or the most commonly used drug for type 2 diabetes, metformin, failed to either delay or effectively treat the condition in youth, according to a new study.

In the study, known as the Restoring Insulin Secretion (RISE) Pediatric Medication Study, principal investigator Sonia Caprio and her coauthors investigated the effect of two interventions for pre-diabetes or diabetes in people ages 10 to 19.

The children and teens either took injections of insulin for three months, followed by metformin for a year, or metformin alone. During the 15-month study period, the researchers assessed blood sugar levels of study participants as well as the function of their beta cells, which store and release insulin in order to maintain healthy blood sugar.

The research team found that the treatments failed to slow or stop the progression of type 2 diabetes in either group. The functioning of the youths’ beta cells continued to deteriorate despite the therapies, which have been shown to treat type 2 diabetes effectively in adults, the researchers say.

While the finding may not apply to every youth with type 2 diabetes, it is a wake-up call for researchers because there is no other FDA-approved medication to treat the disease in young people. The lack of effectiveness may be due to the more aggressive nature of the disease in youth, notes Caprio, a professor of pediatrics at Yale University.

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“The incidence of type 2 diabetes is rising in adolescents,” she says. “Yet we are in a very poor position because we don’t know how best to treat it.” Newer medications that target insulin sensitivity, or resistance to insulin, in youth may be needed.

Source: Yale University