Testing a New Insulin

Type 1 diabetes patients had better blood sugar and lost more weight with new insulin

(RxWiki News) The goal of treating diabetes is to get blood sugar levels under control. For people with type 1 diabetes, that often means taking insulin. One new type of insulin is currently being tested.

A new long-acting insulin may be better than a commonly used insulin - called insulin glargine - at helping patients with type 1 diabetes control their blood sugar and lose weight, according to a recent study.

Insulin is a natural hormone that turns sugar in the blood into energy for the body. Patients with type 1 diabetes make little or no insulin. As a result, these patients need insulin treatments such as insulin glargine to manage blood sugar levels.

"Ask your doctor about insulin treatment options."

The new insulin being tested - called LY2605541 - is a long-acting basal insulin manufactured by Eli Lilly.

From this phase II study, Julio Rosenstock, MD, of the Dallas Diabetes and Endocrine Center at Medical City Dallas, and colleagues found that patients taking LY2605541 had better blood sugar control after 8 weeks, compared to those who took insulin glargine.

Patients taking LY2605541 had better daily blood sugar readings and greater reductions in HbA1c (a measure of blood sugar over time) than those who took insulin glargine.

For those without diabetes, normal levels of HbA1c can range from 4.5 to 6 percent. People with an HbA1c of 6.5 percent or more are said to have diabetes.

In this study, patients taking LY2605541 had a reduction in HbA1c of about 0.6 percent, whereas glargine-treated patients had a reduction of about 0.4 percent. While this difference may appear small, the researchers said it is significant.

People with type 1 diabetes are treated with insulin to reduce blood sugar levels. However, insulin treatment can cause blood sugar levels to drop too low - a condition known as hypoglycemia.

Dr. Rosenstock and colleagues found patients taking LY2605541 had higher rates of hypoglycemia but lower rates of nocturnal hypoglycemia (low blood sugar during the night), compared to those treated with insulin glargine.

While both LY2605541 and insulin glargine were linked to a similar number of negative side effects, gastrointestinal side effects were more common in patients treated with LY2605541. Specifically, 15 percent of LY2605541-treated patients suffered gastrointestinal side effects, compared to 4 percent of insulin glargine patients.

The researchers also found that patients treated with LY2605541 had a 17 percent reduction in their insulin dose at mealtime while patients treated with insulin glargine had a 7 percent increase in their mealtime insulin doses. In other words, patients treated with LY2605541 did not need as much insulin to control blood sugar as those treated with insulin glargine.

These findings suggest that LY2605541 may lead to better blood sugar control, lower rates of nighttime hypoglycemia, reduced weight and lowered mealtime insulin doses. However, the drug may also increase rates of total hypoglycemia and gastrointestinal side effects.

As this study was only a phase II trial, more research is needed to better understand the effects of this new insulin and to get the insulin through the approval process.

This study - which included 137 patients with type 1 diabetes - was supported by Eli Lilly. Dr. Rosenstock reported potential conflicts of interest with Eli Lilly, Novo Nordisk and Sanofi-Aventis. The study was published November 27 in Diabetes Care, a journal of the American Diabetes Association.

Review Date: 
November 29, 2012