Home / Resources / Articles / Using Electromagnetic Fields to Treat Diabetes

Using Electromagnetic Fields to Treat Diabetes

Feb 9, 2021
 
Editor: Steve Freed, R.PH., CDE

Author: Arjay Mendoza, PharmD Candidate, University of Colorado Denver Skaggs School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences

Researchers say static electromagnetic fields (EMFs) could be a non-invasive and safe way of managing blood glucose in diabetes. 

By exposing diabetic mice to a combination of electromagnetic fields (EMFs) for a relatively short period, the animal models’ blood glucose has been reduced and bodies’ response to insulin normalized, according to Calvin Carter, Ph. D., one of the study’s lead authors and a post-doctoral candidate of the UI Carver College of Medicine, Division of Medical Genetics and Genomics. 

 

Because of this unexpected and surprising discovery about EMFs, treatment modalities for Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus (T2DM) can be revolutionized, especially for patients who find current treatment guidelines arduous, paving the way for significant diabetes care implications and management. 

The new study, which was published in Cell Metabolism, has examined the effects of EMFs in altering the balance of oxidants and antioxidants in the liver, causing an improvement in the body’s response to insulin. This effect is facilitated by small reactive molecules that function as “remote control” for blood glucose through magnetic antennae. The team has found that static magnetic and electric fields modulate blood sugar levels in three different mouse models, which were genetically modified to have T2DM. Their experiment suggests that EMFs alter superoxide molecules’ signaling, especially in the liver, which causes continuous activation of an antioxidant response to rebalance the body’s redox set point and the insulin response. Because of this, genetically modified diabetic mice were found to have normal blood glucose levels after repeated EMF exposure. 

Aside from animal studies, the U.I. team also carried out experiments in human liver cells with EMFs for six hours. It resulted in a significant improvement of the surrogate marker for insulin sensitivity, which means that EMFs may also produce the same average glycemic effect in humans. 

In terms of safety, the World Health Organization considers low-energy EMFs safe for human health. However, further studies are needed to test the safety and efficacy of this non-invasive treatment modality. Aside from that, mice had no adverse effects while the researchers conducted the said experiment.  

Currently, the U.I. team works on larger animal models such as large mammals to test their hypothesis that the EMFs produce the same effects in an animal closer in anatomy and physiology to humans. Also, they plan to conduct studies to determine the redox mechanism underlying the effects of EMFs. Redox biology is an area of research that deals with electrons’ behavior and reactive molecules that govern cellular metabolism. Once animal testing has been completed, their goal is to conduct clinical trials in adult patients, potentially paving the way for a new antidiabetic therapy class. Their ultimate dream is to create a new type of non-invasive medicine that can remotely take control of cells to fight off disease, not just diabetes. 

Carter and his multidisciplinary research team also included scientists from several U.I. departments such as the Department of Radiology, Neuroscience, Pharmacology, Molecular Physiology and Biophysics, Physics, and Astronomy and colleagues from other institutions such as Vanderbilt University. 

The research was funded through philanthropic gifts by several foundations such as Janice and Herbert Wilson Family Foundation, the Chris and Charles Chessman Foundation, and the Roy J. Carver Charitable Trust. Also, the funding was provided by the American Diabetes Association, the Francois Abboud Cardiovascular Center, and the University of Iowa Research Foundation. Researchers on the U.I. team were also supported by funding from the National Eye Institute, the National Cancer Institute, the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, and the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, the Teresa Benoit Diabetes Research Fund, and the Fraternal Order of Eagles Diabetes Research Center. 

As of right now, Carter and his team have patents pending related to their work on EMFs and diabetes. 

Practice Pearls: 

  • Electromagnetic fields (EMFs) have been shown to reduce blood glucose and improve the body’s response to insulin in genetically modified diabetic mice models. 
  • EMFs work by altering the balance of oxidants and antioxidants in the liver, causing an improvement in the body’s response to insulin. 
  • EMFs are deemed safe for human health per the World Health Organization, and there were no adverse effects found on mice while the researchers conducted their experiment. 

 

Carter, Calvin S, et al. “Exposure to static magnetic and electric fields treats type 2 diabetes.” Cell metabolism vol. 32,4 (2020): 561-574.e7. doi:10.1016/j.cmet.2020.09.012 

 “The efficacy of adding electromagnetic therapy or laser therapy to medications in patients with diabetic peripheral neuropathy.” Journal of lasers in medical sciences vol. 11,1 (2020): 20-28. doi:10.15171/jlms.2020.05 

 

Arjay Mendoza, PharmD Candidate, University of Colorado Denver Skaggs School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences