Versatile Role of Insulin Highlighted in Special Issue of Diabetes Care

Alexandria, Virginia
November 24, 2015

Insulin therapy, the cornerstone of diabetes treatment for more than 90 years, has undergone substantial changes since it was first introduced, especially over the past two decades. In a special issue of Diabetes Care published in December, a dozen new reports highlight the crucial role insulin continues to play in diabetes treatment and the numerous and innovative ways in which it is now used.

"Although insulin has always been the mainstay of type 1 diabetes treatment, we recognize now its effectiveness and safety in type 2 diabetes and continue to learn to use it in new ways," said William T. Cefalu, MD, Editor in Chief of Diabetes Care. "Over the years, many changes in insulin therapy have occurred, including new formulations, new delivery systems, and additional therapeutic tactics. We are on the brink of a new and exciting era with increasingly reliable and easy-to-use continuous glucose monitoring as part of a closed-loop delivery system. To demonstrate the diversity of and recent innovations in the clinical use of insulin, we dedicated the December 2015 issue of Diabetes Care to insulin use. In this issue, we provide a collection of articles addressing the versatility of insulin in general, new concepts regarding older formulations, new formulations on the market, the advantages of using insulin in combination with the newer agents both in type 1 diabetes and type 2 diabetes, and new insulin delivery systems."

In an editorial accompanying the special collection, the authors compare the role of insulin to that of the "black dress," a staple of women's fashion and an iconic symbol of versatility. "Just like the 'black dress,' by simple additions or modifications [insulin] can be adapted to nearly all occasions," they wrote, then added in a section on using oral agents in combination with insulin, "Our idea that insulin therapy is like a basic 'black dress' includes the concept that both can go well with additional accessories—in the case of insulin, other therapies used in combination."

"To a great extent, the newer classes of glucose-lowering agents are being studied as 'add-on' tactics on a background of insulin rather than as a replacement for insulin in subjects with type 2 diabetes," they concluded. "Thus, we think insulin is and will continue to hold the place of the 'black dress' among therapies … meeting a basic need, never out of fashion, and always adaptable to everyday needs."

Copies of the full studies, commentaries, and the editorial can be found at

About the American Diabetes Association

Nearly half of American adults have diabetes or prediabetes; more than 30 million adults and children have diabetes; and every 21 seconds, another individual is diagnosed with diabetes in the U.S. Founded in 1940, the American Diabetes Association (ADA) is the nation’s leading voluntary health organization whose mission is to prevent and cure diabetes, and to improve the lives of all people affected by diabetes. The ADA drives discovery by funding research to treat, manage and prevent all types of diabetes, as well as to search for cures; raises voice to the urgency of the diabetes epidemic; and works to safeguard policies and programs that protect people with diabetes. In addition, the ADA supports people living with diabetes, those at risk of developing diabetes, and the health care professionals who serve them through information and programs that can improve health outcomes and quality of life. For more information, please call the ADA at 1-800-DIABETES (1-800-342-2383) or visit Information from both of these sources is available in English and Spanish. Find us on Facebook (American Diabetes Association), Twitter (@AmDiabetesAssn) and Instagram (@AmDiabetesAssn)