Some monumental milestones occurred in 2016 as diabetes research further evolved.
One of the more remarkable developments was the halting of type 1 diabetes in mice for six months, while further strides were made into oral insulin and the artificial pancreas.
The low-carb diet remained a prominent discussion point within type 2 diabetes research, and there was substantial technological progress in helping people manage diabetes.
Type 1 diabetes research
Harvard University researchers made a significant breakthrough in January when they showed type 1 diabetes could be halted for six months in mice. Less than a month later, human testing began in a separate study to see if stem cells could eliminate the need for insulin injections in type 1 diabetes, while progress was made too with the developments of an insulin pill and smart insulin patch.
- January 2016: Scientists make type 1 diabetes breakthrough by halting disease for six months
- February 2016: Stem cell testing begins on human type 1 diabetes patients in bid to eliminate insulin injections
- March 2016: Updated insulin smart patch could control blood glucose levels without injections
- August 2016: New insulin pill developed by American researchers could treat type 1 diabetes
Type 2 diabetes research
The low-carb diet received further validation from scientists when its benefits were compared to a high-fat diet, while Newcastle University’s very low-calorie diet (VCLD) also achieved impressive results among people with type 2 diabetes.
Scientists began more experiments into beige fat, which could lead to future treatments that counteract obesity and the development of type 2 diabetes.
- February 2016: Low-carb diet leads to decreased medication among type 2 diabetes patients, research finds
- March 2016: Very low calorie diet can reverse type 2 diabetes for six months
- July 2016: Mediterranean diet can lower risk of type 2 diabetes, cancer and cardiovascular events
- August 2016: Breakthrough into beige fat research could combat obesity and type 2 diabetes
Artificial pancreas developments
In 2016, the artificial pancreas was tested across more clinical trials and study participants than ever before, with the device shown to help both children and adults. A key trial was announced in September when the University of Cambridge was given European Commission funding to see if the artificial pancreas could transform type 1 diabetes management in children.
- August 2016: Artificial pancreas could transform treatment for pregnant women with type 1 diabetes
- September 2016: European Commission funds artificial pancreas trial in children with type 1 diabetes
- November 2016: Artificial pancreas improves blood glucose control in type 2 diabetes
- November 2016: Less fear of hypos noted in type 1 diabetes artificial pancreas study
Blood glucose testing devices
For years researchers have been striving to make blood glucose testing less invasive, particularly as children often find finger pricking very unpleasant. In 2016, we were shown that several research avenues are being pursued to make non-invasive testing devices more available for the diabetes community.
- January 2016: Development of breathalyser test to monitor blood glucose levels begins
- March 2016: Graphene sensor patch measures glucose levels in sweat and provides treatment
- May 2016: Microwave device could monitor blood glucose levels in people with diabetes
- September 2016: New smart contact lens monitors blood sugar levels in the blink of an eye