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Exciting times in diabetes

Who watched dispatches mid-June, about the possible long-term side effects of the Incretin mimetic class of drugs including Exenatide, Liraglutide and more recently Lixesenatide, but also Sitagliptin, Vildagliptin, Saxagliptin and Linagliptin? Well I didn't see that programme, but I did read a similar article in The Times and have just been reading on line the review of the main investigation that was published in the British Medical Journal.

No secret has ever been made of the fact that anyone with a history of or tendency to pancreatitis should not be prescribed these drugs. This happens because of the way these drugs work in the pancreas. What has been your response to this information coming to light? Has anyone stopped prescribing these? I hope not, as the advice appears to be that we should continue to prescribe, and keep monitoring, as normal, for any adverse reactions to these drugs. The review on NHS Choices concludes with sound advice that the risk from developing complications from elevated blood sugars is much higher than any risk of possible pancreatitic cancer.

It is a time of developments in the world of diabetes, as recently there came the announcement on BBC News that there is promising progress in the development of a vaccine to stop the body's immune system attacking the body, as happens in type 1 diabetes. The idea of the vaccine would be to stop this autoimmune effect, while the pancreas still had functioning beta cells from which it could produce insulin itself. This is early stage research and it will be some time before a vaccine is available for patient use.

How many of you were aware that Tesco, the supermarket chain has formed a National Charity Partnership with Diabetes UK, helping them to raise money? This will enable more research into a vaccine for type 1 diabetes and provide support for Diabetes UK in providing information for those with both type 1 and type 2 diabetes to help them manage their conditions more effectively. A recent meeting involving international researchers suggest that it may be possible to have such a vaccine in use within the next 20 years. These are exciting times in the world of diabetes, and for parents of small children with type 1, there is now a likelihood that their children have an optimistic future to look forward to.

On a completely different issue, I was fortunate to attend a meeting in London, where I hear this amazing person speak, about their work with people in local communities. Caroline Fanshawe is one of the founders of Lets Get Cooking (The Childrens' Food trust) spoke to us of the need to teach people basic cooking skills, as many have become deskilled over the past 20 years or so. This charity was set up with the aim of improving what children eat and thereby improving children's lives. It really struck a cord with me, as many of my patients are on low incomes, and tell me they can't eat the “healthier” foods due to cost. Caroline explained that by teaching simple cookery, we could give them the tools to eat healthily within their budgets. I wonder if this charity could help us with our patients, as they do not work solely with children and they set up community groups and cooking skills training, which can be run by local trainers.

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