The International Diabetes Federation estimates that up to 95% of the 380 million people worldwide who are affected by diabetes suffer from type 2 diabetes. Thus, the potential impact of a novel treatment for type 2 diabetes is enormous. Despite obvious differences in the pathogenesis of type 1 and 2 diabetes, both diseases are characterized by impaired glucose homeostasis resulting from insufficient insulin production by pancreatic beta cells. In type 1 diabetes, beta cell destruction by the immune system is rapid and extensive, causing severe insulin deficiency. In contrast, beta cell failure in type 2 diabetes occurs gradually over time and is associated with peripheral insulin resistance.
Clinical studies have shown that patients with type 2 diabetes also have reduced beta cell mass and declining beta cell function during the progression from pre-diabetes to overt diabetes. Therefore, treatment strategies for type 2 diabetes should be aimed at restoring beta cell mass and/or function, in addition to improving insulin sensitivity.
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