Scientists have developed a new wearable medical device that may help treat type 2 diabetes, even in overweight, disabled or elderly people.
A new study by researchers at Kumamoto University in Japan found that the device can effect visceral fat loss and improve blood glucose (sugar).
Type 2 diabetes is a disease of systemic organ failure due to chronic hyperglycemia and inflammation from the accumulation of excess visceral fat.
Metabolic disorders such as hyperglycemia attenuate stress resistance in the human body and exacerbate insulin resistance. The ability of insulin to lower blood sugar levels is reduced and insulin secretion is decreased.
The heat shock response (HSR) is activated as a response to stress in the human body, but its function decreased in those with type 2 diabetes.
The research team found that by restoring the function of HSP72, the main protein of HSR, improved glucose-related abnormalities.
The team found that a suitable combination of mild electrical stimulation (MES) with heat shock (HS) activated HSP72 more efficiently.
Researchers developed a belt-type medical device that uses a special type of rubber to transmit MES and HS at the same time.
They then performed a clinical trial of MES and HS on 40 obese men suffering from type 2 diabetes. Results showed a decrease fasting glucose levels, a loss of visceral fat, improve insulin resistance, and a significant improvement in glycated hemoglobin (HbA1c) values.
About half of all subjects (52.5 per cent) achieved less than 7.0 per cent HbA1c, which is a treatment goal for diabetes. The first trial showed that activation of the HSR produced a large therapeutic effect.
In the next clinical trial, 60 obese patients with type 2 diabetes from both genders were given a 12-week treatment with the belt-shaped MES and HS medical device.
Trial subjects received treatments for 60 minutes each time, and were separated into three groups of two, four and seven treatments per week. This determined the most effective treatment frequency.
Improvements in chronic inflammation, fatty liver markers, renal function and lipid profile were also shown.
Adding the MES and HS treatment to a DPP-4 inhibitor, which is the most often used therapeutic drug for diabetes in Japan, showed an even stronger blood glucose improvement.
“This device is very easy to use since it simply attaches to the abdomen, and it has a low-impact on the patient. One can expect the effects to be similar to exercise therapy,” said Tatsuya Kondo, who lead the research.
“Even in patients who have difficulty exercising, such as those who are overweight, elderly, or have some form of disability, this device can be expected to provide acceptable treatment in addition to conventional diabetic medical care,” said Kondo.
The research was published in the journal Scientific Reports.