We'd all like to see a cure for type 2 diabetes on the horizen, but so far, it's not in the works. All we can hope for at the moment is improved gizmos and gadgets that might make our lives a little easier but won't cure the underlying problem, or new approaches to treating patients that might improve our care.
Some of the proposals for new approaches to both obesity and diabetes at the recent Cleveland Clinic Innovation Summit were as follows:
Tailoring, or developing biomarkers that would show which subpopulations or individual patients would benefit from a specific treatment and which would not. As patients, we understand the concept of YMMV (your mileage may vary). Some physicians who follow evidence-based medicine that is based on average responses don't seem as willing to tailor the results to the individual and probably won't until there's some way of measuring individual risks.
Focusing on comorbidities of obesity rather than weight itself. If someone is overweight but otherwise active and healthy, the situation is different from that in a person who is overweight with bad knees and impending heart failure. In the latter case, the obesity should be viewed as a progressive disease, not a cosmetic problem, said Steve Nissen, chairman of cardiovascular disease at the Cleveland Clinic. "The FDA is missing the point when they focus on weight loss, not comorbidities."
Using implanted devices that would transmit data not only to the patient, as with current continuous glucose monitors, but to health care providers, or, in the case of children with diabetes, to parents.
Finding better outcome measures. One speaker said that at autopsy, they find that 40% of diagnoses were wrong.
Five new devices to treat established obesity were described at the meeting. None are yet on the market. A sixth device, the EndoBarrier, was demonstrated by a vendor. It is available in Europe but not yet in the United States.
BaroSense is working on a system to implant a silicone barrier at the end of the esophagus to induce a sense of fullness. You can see an animation of the procedure at the Physician section of the site. It is implanted through the mouth and is called TERIS (transoral endoscopic restrictive implant system). It is intended to be a long-term device used along with "lifestyle changes," but it can be removed if the patient no longer needs it, according to the company's CEO, Daniel Balbierz.
IntraPace is working on technology similar to that used in cardiac pacemakers. The "abiliti" system uses a laparoscopically implanted stomach sensor to detect food or drink. The device then delivers electric impulses designed to make you feel full before the stomach is full. You can see an animation of the system on the Technology page of the site.
The system also records the output of the food sensor and an activity sensor, and this information can be downloaded at the doctor's office, so you and your doctor can analyze eating and exercise patterns.