For people with type 2 diabetes and moderately elevated blood glucose levels, the medication vildagliptin, sold under the brand name Galvus, can produce long-term improvements in the functioning of the insulin-secreting beta cells in the pancreas along with better glucose control, researchers report.
"Improvement of glucose control, which was a known fact for vildagliptin, is paralleled, and likely caused, by an improvement of beta-cell function," Dr. Andrea Mari told Reuters Health.
Mari, from the National Research Council, Padova, Italy, and colleagues put 306 patients with type 2 diabetes on vildagliptin or an inactive placebo for a year. The participants had an A1C in the range of 6.2 percent to 7.5 percent, indicating only mild hyperglycemia.
Vildagliptin significantly increased the secretion rate of insulin by 17 percent compared to placebo, the investigators report in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism.
The spike in glucose levels after a meal improved for patients on vildagliptin treatment but worsened somewhat for those given placebo, as did A1C levels, the researchers found.
The improvements with vildagliptin were fully apparent within 24 weeks of treatment, the investigators say, but none of the effects on beta-cell function remained after 4 weeks once the medication was stopped.
Because of this, Mari's team concludes that longer studies are needed to see if vildagliptin modifies the progression of type 2 diabetes.