Sixty Years of Drug Discovery for Type 2 Diabetes: Where Are We Now?

  • John C. ClaphamEmail author
Part of the Methods in Molecular Biology book series (MIMB, volume 2076)


Today, excluding insulin, there are eight classes of anti-diabetic medicines that have been added to the pharmacy since the introduction of metformin in the mid-1950s; the sulfonylureas, biguanides, thiazolidinediones, α-glucosidase inhibitors, meglitinides, incretins, and sodium glucose transport 2 inhibitors. Does the fact that metformin is still first-line treatment suggest that our drug discovery efforts over the past 60 years have not been good enough? Or does it suggest that diabetes is such a complex disorder that no single treatment, other than gastric bypass surgery, can affect true normalization of not only blood sugar but also the underlying pathologies? Our understanding of the disease has most definitely improved which may bring hope for the future in terms of science, but for it to be beneficial, this science has to be translated into better drug treatments for the disease. In this review, I have examined the eight classes of anti-diabetes drugs from a drug discovery perspective.

Key words

Type-2-diabetes Drug discovery Metformin Sulfonylureas Biguanides Thiazolidinediones α-Glucosidase inhibitors DPPIV inhibitors GLP-1 SGLT2 inhibitors Pharmaceutical industry 


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© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2020

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Medical SchoolUniversity of BuckinghamBuckinghamUK

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