A weekly injection of insulin could be just as effective to manage diabetes as the common daily injection regime, a study has found.
Researchers said their findings represented a “revolutionary” breakthrough in diabetes treatment and help millions of sufferers to better manage their condition.
Type 1 diabetes occurs when the body cannot produce enough of the hormone insulin, causing the level of glucose in the blood to become too high, leading to an increased risk of developing heart, eye, and kidney disease.
Scientists across 12 countries tested the efficacy and safety of a weekly injection of icodec, a long-lasting type of insulin, and compared it to a daily injection of shorter-lasting insulin degludec in adults with type 1 diabetes.
A total of 582 participants were split into two groups. The first received weekly injections of icodec and the other received daily injections of degludec. Both also received aspart, a short-acting insulin, at mealtimes.
After 26 weeks, scientists found that levels of HbA1C – a protein that acts as the universal marker for diabetes control – in those who had taken icodec had decreased from a mean of 7.59 percent to an estimated mean of 7.15 percent.
For degludec, the mean had decreased from 7.63 percent to 7.10 percent.
The HbA1c target for people with diabetes to aim for is 6.5 percent.
Scientists concluded that the icodec weekly treatment worked just as efficiently as degludec, with the additional benefit of having a “significantly reduced injection frequency” for patients.
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David Russell-Jones, professor of Diabetes and Endocrinology at the University of Surrey, who led the team of researchers, said: “Many people find managing a long-term condition such as diabetes very difficult and report missing vital insulin injections.
“Missed injections can affect glycaemic control, and a lack of consistency in the treatment has been linked to increased rates of diabetic ketoacidosis, a serious complication of the condition that can be life-threatening.
“Reducing insulin injection frequency could lessen the burden of treatment for some people with the condition and improve their glycaemic control.”
Prof Russell-Jones, who also works as a consultant at the Royal Surrey Foundation NHS Trust, added: “We’ve concluded this new insulin may have a role in reducing the burden of daily basal injections for patients managing type 1 diabetes.
“Our findings are very promising, but further analysis of continuous glucose monitoring data and real-world studies are needed.”
The study was published in the journal The Lancet on Tuesday.