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A meta-analysis of 29 studies, none longer than six months, has shown that incretin therapies (like Byetta and Januvia) are moderately effective in lowering blood glucose in people with type 2 diabetes, especially after meals.
Better yet, they do so without the weight gain associated with many type 2 medications.
Incretin therapy uses drugs that increase the action of GLP-1, a hormone secreted by the intestine that lowers blood glucose. Studies of two types of incretin therapy were assessed: A GLP-1 analogue, exenatide (Byetta), which is an injectable synthetic copy of GLP-1 that lasts much longer in the body than natural GLP-1; and DPP-4 inhibitors, like sitagliptin (Januvia), which are pills that block the breakdown of natural GLP-1, again making it last longer in the body.
The results of the meta-analysis indicate that incretin therapy appears to be safe, at least over the short run, with minimal negative side effects. For people who still have adequate beta cells, are at risk for hypoglycemia, and need to lose weight, it appears to be a good alternative. However, it needs lengthier evaluation to assess its long-term safety and effectiveness.
Journal of the American Medical Association, July 2007
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