A new family of drugs for type 2 diabetes could actually be making the condition worse by encouraging the body to release more sugar into the bloodstream, the very thing the drugs are supposed to prevent.
The GLP-1 agonists, or incretin mimetics, are injectable drugs that have been licensed for only a year or so, and are being prescribed to diabetics who have failed to control their symptoms through lifestyle changes.
But researchers at Cambridge University fear the drugs could be causing the body to release more sugar into the blood. They stress that their findings are only at the initial stages and more work needs to be done before it can be established the drugs are causing this reaction.
They made their discovery in laboratory tests and on cell cultures. Their findings suggest there is a gap in medicine`s understanding of the way diabetes works, and especially the hormone glucagon.
Diabetics suffer from excessively high blood sugar because their bodies don`t produce enough insulin to break down the sugars. It affects around 347 million people around the world, and is projected to become the seventh major leading cause of death by 2030.
(Source: Journal of Biological Chemistry; 2015; 290: 23009)