What healthcare professionals need to know about NIDDK research

Learn how NIDDK research helps care for patients with diabetes.

Diabetes is the main focus of research by the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK), which works on the most effective strategies for preventing and treating diabetes. Get answers to your NIDDK research questions below and see how it helps with the care you provide to patients with diabetes.

Q: Why is diabetes research important?

A: Research is needed to reduce the prevalence and impact of diabetes, which is one of the most common chronic diseases in the United States. About 37 million people in the United States have diabetes, which continues to rise. Another 96 million adults have prediabetes. Having diabetes can reduce your quality of life, lead to high health care costs, and increase your risk for other chronic illnesses, such as kidney disease and cardiovascular disease.

The growing prevalence of diabetes raises important research questions: What causes an increase in the rate of diabetes? What prevention strategies are most appropriate to reverse these trends? What treatment can help people with diabetes or diabetes to live their best lives?

People with lower incomes or who have historically been discriminated against are more likely to develop diabetes and related health problems. Research on the social determinants of health is important to help inform public policies and improve the health care practices of all people with diabetes.

Q: What type of diabetes research does NIDDK support?

A: NIDDK supports basic research that seeks answers to basic questions about the body’s metabolism and microbiome and the causes and progression of diabetes, and clinical research that finds information that translates directly into strategies for preventing and treating disease.

Although some of the research funding is focused on diabetes, NIDDK also supports research into related diseases such as obesity and kidney disease. Other research examines issues such as genetics and nutrition that are important for understanding disease prevention and treatment.

Q: How do patients benefit from NIDDK-supported diabetes research?

A: Clinical trials supported by NIDDK have led to approaches that improve the health outcomes of patients with diabetes. Research from the Diabetes Prevention Program (DPP) has shown that people at high risk for type 2 diabetes may be able to prevent or delay the disease by losing between 5% and 7% of their initial body weight through lifestyle changes, such as eating fewer calories. and increase their physical activity. The DPP also demonstrated that taking metformin, a safe and effective generic medicine for diabetes, can help prevent diabetes, even at a lower level than lifestyle changes. A follow-up study of the results of the follow-up DPP provides further insights into effective strategies for preventing or delaying type 2 diabetes.

Basic research supported by NIDDK developed newer classes of drugs with type 2 diabetes, GLP-1 receptor agonists, and SGLT2 inhibitors. Both of these classes of medications are now included in the Diabetes Diagnostic Medical Care Standards, and have been found to provide protection against kidney disease and heart disease for patients with diabetes.

Q: Can I target patients with diabetes in clinical trials?

A: Yes. Patients participating in a clinical trial can enjoy the knowledge that they are helping to advance human health for themselves and others. Participating in clinical trials can provide your patients with standard care or access to experimental treatments.

Griffin P. Rodgers, Director of NIDDK, explains the importance of participating in clinical trials.

Q: What types of patients can I refer to in a clinical trial?

A: Many of your patients may be eligible for a clinical trial. Diverse participation is needed to help researchers determine race, age, gender, and physical size and abilities as a disease progresses and how treatments work.

For example, a study is enrolling participants to test a lifestyle-based telehealth intervention for young adults with type 1 diabetes. Another study is testing an application designed to improve glycemic control in young adults with type 1 diabetes. A third study is looking at the effectiveness of some diabetes medications for young African Americans with type 2 diabetes. Each study has guidelines and a review committee to ensure the safety of the volunteers.

You can help your patients find NIDDK-funded clinical trials at ClinicalTrials.gov. You can use site filters to further refine your search by age, gender, and type of study.

Q: How can healthcare professionals benefit from other NIDDK resources?

A: NIDDK contributes to the development of careers for health professionals through training opportunities for medical students, postdoctoral fellows, medical scientists, junior professors, and established researchers. NIDDK is also involved in projects to promote diversity in health care and research, and provides funding opportunities for small businesses. Additional program and funding options are available through the NIH Common Fund.

Healthcare professionals can follow the findings of research developments and clinical practice by subscribing to the Diabetes Discovery and Practice Blog.

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