Early insulin therapy was found to be as effective as 15 months of oral therapy, according to results from a pilot study presented at OMED 15.

Researchers from Ohio University and Western University of Health Sciences College of Osteopathic Medicine conducted a randomized controlled trial in 23 adults with newly diagnosed type 2 diabetes. They found that the group treated with insulin showed a decrease in A1c levels from 10.1% to 6.7% after 15 months. The group treated with intensive oral therapy showed a decrease in A1c levels from 9.9% to 6.8% after 15 months. Patients in the insulin-treated group lost about 5 pounds whereas the intensive oral-treatment group experienced weight gain. Study authors also noted that insulin treatment was well tolerated without severe hypoglycemia.

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Study findings support the notion that early insulin treatment may improve the body’s ability to naturally secrete insulin, concluded Jay Shubrook, DO, study’s lead researcher. He added that it may be due to insulin therapy protecting the beta cells in the pancreas that respond to glucose. Previous research published in the journal Cell Metabolism explains that the mechanism seems to be re-differentiation of beta cells.

Study limitations included sample size and the number of patients considered severely obese (BMI ≥40).

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