Significant advances in diabetes medicine have been made, but many unmet needs remain

Advances in diabetes medicine, such as antidiabetic oral medications, incretin therapies and novel insulin formulations have been made during the past century, but many unmet needs remain for this complex and difficult-to-treat disease, says GlobalData

World Diabetes Day (14 November) aims to improve awareness of hyperglycaemia (the major hallmark of the disease) and its effects.

According to interviewed key opinion leaders (KOLs), there are four pressing unmet needs in the diabetes space. These unmet needs apply broadly for both type 1 diabetes (T1D) and type 2 diabetes (T2D).

Dr Jesus Cuaron, Managing Analyst at GlobalData, comments: “There is a need for additional treatments that provide both glycaemic and non-glycaemic benefits, especially as the control of diabetes comorbidities is less than optimal in most patients."

"Incretin-based therapies and sodium glucose cotransporter Inhibitors (SGLTIs) are partially addressing this need in T2D by inducing weight loss, lowering blood pressure and providing CV benefit.”

Reducing the occurrence of hypoglycaemia, or low blood sugar levels, in insulin-dependent diabetic patients is another vital area in the diabetes space that requires ongoing attention.

Currently, all available insulin therapies are associated with the risk of hypoglycaemia, despite the fact that new generation insulins such as Novo Nordisk’s Tresiba have lowered the risk.

Dr Cuaron continues: “The issue of significantly decreased compliance among patients using injectable therapies such as insulin continues to be partially addressed by drug developers."

"Hypoglycaemia is one of the top safety concerns associated with diabetics taking insulin. But most attempts to bring a commercially successful non-injectable insulin to market have been met with failure, as seen with Pfizer’s Exubera.”

The most pressing unmet need in the diabetes space is the development of breakthrough treatments that address the underlying cause of the disease.

In T1D, this would be a treatment that would interfere with either the aetiology or the pathogenic processes involved in the eradication of the ß cells. In T2D, the treatment would have to effectively target the root of the disease, insulin resistance.

Dr Cuaron concludes: “Whether or not a truly curative treatment will be discovered and developed is yet to be seen. In the meantime, developers should continue focusing on tackling the multiple unmet needs that remain in this space.”

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