Three Ways New Insulin Research May Be Changing Your World

Before the discovery of insulin in Canada in the 1920s, the known treatments for diabetes were often ineffectual. The most promising one was a near-impossible diet in which patients avoided sugar at all costs. When insulin became freely available, it changed the lives of thousands of diabetic patients, in many cases lifting what was effectively a death sentence. This was nearly insulin's only medical use for decades (though it's used as an emergency hyperkalemia treatment as well), but several cutting-edge studies have shown exciting new uses for it on the horizon. Whether you have diabetes or Alzheimer's disease or want to avoid both, this is good news for you. Read on for three ways in which different types of insulin treatments may be changing the world once again.

1. Preventive treatment

Though it's still in the early stages of testing, recent trials have had good success in an attempt to use powdered insulin as a preventive treatment for diabetes. This treatment attempts to lower the risk of developing type 1 diabetes, an immune system dysfunction in which the body unnecessarily reacts to and destroys insulin. The study focused on building up the immune system's tolerance to insulin and produced results good enough to justify further research. 

2. Eliminating needles

Insulin treatments, which are typically administered by injection, can be especially hard for those who feel squeamish around sharp needles. But that may become history with the implementation of new insulin technology designed to circumvent the daily need for needles. Some new insulin treatments, such as inhaled insulin, have become available to consumers as recently as February 2015. Other technology, currently in development and trial stages, includes nasally administered insulin (for hypoglycemia) and transdermal patches to administer insulin directly through the skin.

3. Treating Alzheimer's

American researchers, noticing that insulin deficiencies were often present in Alzheimer's patients, began wondering if these patients had difficulties with insulin storing and processing. Postulating that lowered insulin levels could indicate such a problem, the scientists began conducting trials to test insulin's effect on patients with Alzheimer's. Scientists who took part in these studies have obtained positive results with nasally administered insulin. After finishing a study in which they hope to see more in-depth results, they plan to have their methods approved for more widespread use. Who would have guessed that a treatment normally associated with diabetes could be part of the solution to Alzheimer's?

While it may not be able to do away with Alzheimer's for good or completely prevent both types of diabetes, new research into insulin types is bringing scientists one step closer to defeating these enemies once and for all. So whether you're an Alzheimer's or diabetes patient already or are hoping to avoid both, these new developments are making your future just a little brighter.