Dr Jason McKeown
With over 200,000 people with type 2 diabetes in Ireland, a non-invasive neurostimulation device to control long-term blood sugar levels has the potential to make a difference in thousands of lives.
Type 2 diabetes is a condition that causes the level of glucose in the blood to become too high, caused by problems with insulin. As it is a chronic condition, patients are generally required to gradually increase their medications, adding additional drugs or upping doses every three to four years.
The risk of progression
Dr Jason McKeown, Chief Executive Officer of Neurovalens, explains: “Very quickly, people with type 2 diabetes end up in expensive scenarios with ever-increasing medication. Side effects can be messy and, really, they are just watching their diabetes get worse — managing it, not fixing it.”
Meanwhile, overall health deteriorates as type 2 diabetes can increase the risk of serious problems with the eyes, heart and nerves. “As diabetes gets worse, there is an increased risk of heart attacks, strokes, obesity and a whole host of conditions,” McKeown says.
It could allow patients more choice and potentially restore function to maintain low-level diabetes for longer.
In response, Neurovalens has developed a non-invasive neurostimulation device aiming to control long-term blood sugar levels in people with type 2 diabetes. “Our interest was in improving the part of the brain that detects glucose and doesn’t function very well in type 2 diabetics,” explains McKeown. “We want to restore function or improve the performance of that area.”
The device, which is worn on the head like a small set of headphones for 60 minutes a day, transmits a small electrical impulse into the brain and nervous system to help stimulate glucose detection. Final stage trials are currently underway, and we are actively recruiting through University College Dublin to make the device available on prescription and potentially treat type 2 diabetes earlier — possibly even in the preventative stage for those with prediabetes.
Reversing the effects
“It could allow patients more choice and potentially restore function to maintain low-level diabetes for longer,” McKeown says. “This could keep people with type 2 diabetes from having to move up the treatment ladder and take on additional drugs, side effects and costs.”
He concludes: “We hope it won’t just be about stopping progression but reversing type 2 diabetes at that early treatment stage to revert patients to prediabetes or normal levels. That won’t be the case for everyone, but if we can help 30% of patients off of that chronic disease pathway — that is a huge benefit.”