Discoveries

Stemming the Increasing Prevalence of Type 2 Diabetes

diabetes care
A person can normally test his own blood glucose level.

Just like in western countries like the U.S., people in the Asia-Pacific region are eating more and exercising less, resulting to a growing problem with obesity, and in turn, diabetes. Fortunately, cutting-edge technology has presented solutions to the woes of diabetes patients.

Large studies in recent years have pointed to acarbose as effective, safe and well tolerated remedy in a large cohort of Asian patients with type 2 diabetes. The effectivity of the anti-diabetic agent, used as add-on or monotherapy in diabetic patients that include even those with cardiovascular morbidities, has led to an increasing demand in Asia for it.

This health update augurs well for countries that have experienced health issues along with rapid economic transition, notably China. That is one country where the diabetic epidemic was reported to be on the upswing.  In China, about 92.4 million adults have diabetes, with only one in three people aware that they have the disorder. It is also a growing malaise among Chinese children.

Ever-Increasing Cases of Diabetes

Multinational chemical and pharmaceutical company Bayer AG tweeted the overall alarming figures: “Some 415 million people in the world are affected by diabetes today, and the number could well reach 642 million by 2040.”

Modernization and a growing economy have made it more likely for Asians, including the Chinese and Filipinos, to eat food such as burgers and chicken wings on a regular basis. Combine this with an aversion to exercise, and you have an uptick in  diseases in China, most especially diabetes mellitus.

In the bodies of type 2 diabetes patients, cells develop a resistance to the hormone insulin, which makes the cells unable to absorb glucose from the bloodstream and then turn it into energy. All that food, rather than being used for energy, make for high levels of glucose in the blood, causing negative effects on blood vessels. Patients eventually suffer from ulcers, stroke, kidney failure or damage to the retina.

Many people’s penchant for sugar-sweetened foods and beverages contributes to weight gain and an array of chronic diseases including heart disease, stroke and type 2 diabetes.  Any of these diseases may hamper productivity and affect quality of life.

The good news is that diabetes responds well to treatment, depending on the stage or level it has progressed. Thus, the demand for diabetes treatments in China has increased.

Bayer’s Active Ingredient Production

For more than 20 years, researchers have studied the strains of the Actinoplanes bacterium, which produces the compound acarbose. In the body,  acarbose delays the production of glucose by inhibiting particular enzymes in the small intestine. In simpler terms, acarbose greatly reduces rising glucose levels after a meal of burgers or chicken wings.

Acarbose is now being produced biotechnologically by the Actinoplanes in Wuppertal, where Bayer was founded. There is now an increasing demand for the pharmaceutical compound acarbose in Asia.

Bayer scientists have taken their research a step further. They went on to make acarbose production more efficient, ensuring its quality by building a kind of blueprint of the Actinoplanes bacterium genome that pertains to all known genes and their differing strains.

Important Lifestyle Changes

As companies continually develop or improve treatment and therapy options, individuals — especially those who are predisposed to diabetes — need to revamp their lifestyle habits. Alongside checking with healthcare practitioners the effective methods to predict and diagnose the onset of diabetes and closely monitor its progression, people need to update their knowledge on primary risk factors for diabetes.

The International Diabetes Federation recently tweeted a diagram pointing to those factors “that increase the risk of developing T2 diabetes.” Pinpointed among the possible culprits are being overweight, lack of exercise, unhealthy eating,  family history, or a combination of any of these factors.

Photo Source: Wikimedia Commons

About the author

To Top