Aug. 31 (UPI) — A University of Virginia professor will lead a $3.5 million large-scale clinical trial that seeks to manage Type 2 diabetes through education and behavior modification, the university said Thursday.
The approach is built on getting those suffering from Type 2 diabetes to make wiser dietary and exercise choices to control their blood sugar instead of leaning more on medicines.
The large-scale study, funded by the National Institutes of Health, will be led by Dr. Daniel J. Cox, a professor of psychiatry and internal medicine at the University of Virginia School of Medicine.
“Instead of focusing on reducing weight with diets or medication, we focus on reducing how much blood glucose goes up and stays up after eating and drinking,” Cox said. “This blood glucose elevations are what leads to high A1C and cardiovascular risks among adults with Type2 diabetes.”
Cox calls his approach Glucose Everyday Matters, or GEM, which aims to prevent blood sugar spikes via educated food and drink selection. This will be coupled with physical activity to hasten recovery when blood-sugar spikes do occur.
GEM showed promise, he said, during a small initial trial in which 17 adults recently diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes tested the GEM program in combination with continuous glucose monitoring. They also received text messages to help them stay on track.
In three months, 67% of the participants were in remission, and only one participant needed to begin medication, the university said,
The pilot clinical trial was the first time GEM had been tested through self-administered. Participants received a couple of calls from the researchers and followed a treatment manual instead of face-to-face interventions.
Cox’s large-scale study will try to determine if GEM is a safe and effective new tool for managing Type 2 diabetes among the recently diagnosed. The randomized clinical trial will enroll 200 people in Virginia and Colorado and assess them over five years.
It will probe if GEM helps participants better control their blood sugar and reduce their need for medication. The trial also will compare the cost of GEM with other options and evaluate whether GEM has additional benefits, such as weight loss and decreased depression symptoms.
“It’s an exciting time for people with Type 2 diabetes, with both new medications and new lifestyle interventions to improve the control of diabetes, giving patients many new options,” Cox said.
“Lifestyle interventions have the advantage of being able to put diabetes in remission. GEM is a one-time, brief, six-week intervention that impacts a lifelong lifestyle.”
More than 30 million people around the world have Type 2 diabetes, a condition in which the body becomes unable to regulate blood sugar. This can lead to heart disease, kidney disease, blindness and a host of other serious medical conditions.
Type 2 diabetes typically affects people over age 45, but is increasingly striking children, teenagers and young adults, according to expert. Many people must use medication or insulin injections to manage the condition.