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Experimental Ultra Sound Method to Treat Diabetes

In a recent study, scientists developed a novel ultrasound method to stimulate hepatic nerves which can help lower the high blood glucose levels in diabetes.

Diabetes Mellitus Type-2 is a chronic condition in which the body becomes resistant to insulin, causing the blood glucose level increases abruptly (hyperglycemia). Beta cells present in the pancreas synthesize, store and release insulin in response to high glucose levels in the blood. This insulin keeps the blood sugar level in the normal range. But when the blood sugar level keeps increasing, it destroys these beta cells due to the overwork. Type 2 DM is mainly seen in adults.

This buildup can be detrimental for beta cells. More destruction to these beta cells means more severe diabetes. Certain drugs can help beta cells to release insulin but can be expensive and can become less efficient over time.

According to the WHO, 422 million people worldwide suffer from diabetes with the larger majority hailing from low and middle-income countries, and causes 1.5 million deaths every year. According to the Centers for the Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), type-2 diabetes affects more than 100 million people in the US and is the 7th leading cause of death in the country.

An Approach to Ultrasound Method

In a study published in the Nature Biomedical Engineering, the team led by General Electric (GE) revealed a novel ultrasound method to stimulate specific nerves in the liver. This method is called peripheral focused ultrasound stimulation. It directs the highly concentrated ultrasound at specific tissue areas containing nerve endings.

The researchers tested this method in three different diabetic models (rats, pigs, and mice). They demonstrated that a short frequency of ultrasound directed at specific clusters of nerves in livers, lowered the blood glucose levels.

The team found that just three minutes of ultrasound exposure was enough to keep the blood glucose level normal in diabetic mice. Scientists are working hard to study whether this approach can also be used in humans. If this study becomes successful, then one need not continuously monitor blood sugar levels and their diabetes can be managed well, without any injections and drugs.

The ultrasound radiation frequency triggers the beta cells to secrete insulin which can help halt the common form of diabetes. People with severe diabetes are at a higher risk of developing CVD, kidney problems and blindness. In these people, many beta cells die and there is not enough insulin production. So the novel ultrasound method may prove beneficial to them.

Ultrasound Method- How does it Work..?

Ultrasound is a physical method that uses frequency above 20 kHz. The US has been universally involved in practicing ultrasonography, tumor ablation, and tissue regeneration. The Therapeutic UltraSound (TUS) method has been used to improve Nitric Acid Synthetase activity which plays a crucial role in angiogenesis.

Diabetes Mellitus impairs endothelial nitric acid synthetase activity. The hypothesis is that diabetes mellitus may retard unilateral hindlimb ischemia-induced angiogenesis by inhibiting eNOS (endothelial nitric oxide). This was confirmed in high-fat diet (HFD)/streptozocin (STZ) induced diabetic mice. The therapeutic ultrasound method may reverse the DM-induced impaired angiogenesis. Overall, TUS was able to significantly reduce blood glucose levels.

Benefits of Ultrasound Method in Diabetes Management

Ultrasound is an early-stage, non-invasive therapeutic technology with great potential. It also decreases the cost of diabetes care. This novel approach targets deep tissues, without damaging any of the surrounding tissues. The primary treatment of diabetes includes medication but for certain patients, it has proved to be costly and comparatively has more complications.

Clinical trials need to be conducted on humans to emphasize the benefits of the Ultrasound Method. This method is less painful, and comparatively cheaper than primary treatments along with offering better results. Although animal studies have shown positive results, there is still a long way to go when it comes to implementing it in the real world.


Ritika Gupta

Ritika Gupta is an MPharm. graduate who is keen on spreading awareness about various unexplored medical fields through her writings.


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