EASD 2015 Research and The Future

Day four of EASD 2015 was all about stepping away from the shiny technology and show stands, and digging deeper to find out what is happening in the world of research in Diabetes, and what we can hope to see in the future.

In a poster hall the size of 2 or 3 football pitches, we immediately decided we weren’t going to be able to cover everything, however on the areas of interest we did cover, there is a lot to be excited about, as it seems for the first time, researchers and academics are all recognising the same needs for patients.

In the ‘Alternative Insulin Therapies’ poster section we saw lots of work being done surrounding new insulins, stepping closer to a ‘smart insulin’ idea where people with Diabetes are able to take less injections and less insulins, but still retain the same effects that they currently have from insulin pumps and multiple daily injection routines.

Photo 16-09-2015, 11 42 29‘New and Emerging Insulin Therapies’ section, a small part of the poster hall at EASD 2015


There was also a large focus on ‘Afrezza’ and inhalable insulins. This of course isn’t anything new, it is an idea that has been trialled and released (thenwithdrawn) to the public before. However Doctors and researchers are having another go, with technological advancements and our knowledge of Diabetes improving, the latest trials of inhalable insulins have proven mostly successful. However despite the success of recent trials, we can’t help wondering if the time would be better spent improving the techniques we have now and more viable solutions such as smart insulins.

Photo 16-09-2015, 11 48 25Reduced hypoglycaemia is observed with inhaled insulin versus subcutaneous insulin aspart in patients with Type-1 diabetes mellitus – Nikonova et al


The ‘closed-loop systems’ poster section understandably drew the greatest audiences of the week. ‘Artificial Pancreas’ as we have already seen is a real buzz topic at the moment, with the release of the Medtronic 640g to the market representing the closest we have gotten thus far; much of the research currently is heading in the direction of a two cartridge pump, one for insulin, and one for glucagon. Several patient studies have now taken place using this method with success,  and those who have taken part in the trials were very pleased saying it gave them a new freedom, so maybe it is a worthwhile possibility.

The section that had us most excited however was the ‘Activity and Diabetes section’. It is no secret that activity and Diabetes when used hand-in-hand yield improved management amongst others, you only have to look at TeamBG and the individuals that have been involved to see this.

Photo 16-09-2015, 12 09 31Physical activity in a large cohort of insulin-treated Type-2 diabetes patients – Progens Arena Study


For so long it has been easier to prescribe medications such as Metformin, GLP-1/2 agonists in Type-2, and more insulin with combined Metformin in Type-1 and Type-2 instead of encouraging activity and weight loss. But now Doctors and pharmaceutical companies are recognising that demand outweighs supply, and that more needs to be done around activity. 3 posters in particular most stood out to us, two that stated it was clear activity was benefitting all Type-2 participants, even if they didn’t necessarily want or need to lose weight, another that showed beyond doubt that activity needs to be an important part of any Diabetes education, and the most significant in terms of future developments, one that stated in its conclusion how activity benefits young people both in their Diabetes and in quality of life. Improved Diabetes management and quality of life go hand in hand.

Photo 16-09-2015, 11 55 55Coping skills and quality of life in adolescents with Type-1 diabetes – Lucacs et al


Will the research have an immediate positive effect? We don’t know, however it is more evident than ever that a seismic shift is happening (or at least trying to) in improving Diabetes management through activity rather than medication. The meds will always be there and for those unable to engage in regular activity, they are the ultimate solution, however for the majority who can do more, a real focus is now being made on helping them to do so, and to recognise the benefits themselves both short and long term.