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Research on Diabetes

NIDDK conducts research in its own laboratories and supports a great deal of basic and clinical research in medical centers and hospitals throughout the United States. It also gathers and analyzes statistics about diabetes. Other Institutes at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) conduct and support research on diabetes-related eye diseases, heart and vascular complications, pregnancy, and dental problems.

Other Government agencies that sponsor diabetes programs are the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Indian Health Service, the Health Resources and Services Administration, the Department of Veterans Affairs, and the Department of Defense.

Many organizations outside the Government support diabetes research and education activities. These organizations include the American Diabetes Association, the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation International, and the American Association of Diabetes Educators.

In recent years, advances in diabetes research have led to better ways of managing diabetes and treating its complications. Major advances include

  • Development of quick-acting and long-acting insulins
  • Better ways to monitor blood glucose and for people with diabetes to check their own blood glucose levels, including advances in noninvasive blood glucose monitoring
  • Development of external insulin pumps that deliver insulin, replacing daily injections
  • Laser treatment for diabetic eye disease, reducing the risk of blindness
  • Successful kidney and pancreas transplantation in people whose kidneys fail because of diabetes
  • Better ways of managing diabetes in pregnant women, improving their chances of a successful outcome
  • New drugs to treat type 2 diabetes and better ways to manage this form of diabetes through weight control
  • Evidence that intensive management of blood glucose reduces and may prevent development of diabetes complications
  • Demonstration that two types of antihypertensive drugs, ACE (angiotensin-converting enzyme) inhibitors and ARBs (angiotensin receptor blockers), are more effective than other antihypertensive drugs in reducing a decline in kidney function in people with diabetes
  • Promising results with islet transplantation for type 1 diabetes reported by the University of Alberta in Canada
  • Evidence that people at high risk for type 2 diabetes can lower their chances of developing the disease through diet, weight loss, and physical activity