A Review of Interventional Trials in Youth-Onset Type 2 Diabetes: Challenges and Opportunities

Diabetes Ther. 2021 Nov;12(11):2827-2856. doi: 10.1007/s13300-021-01136-5. Epub 2021 Sep 23.


Introduction: In recent decades, the dramatic rise of obesity among youth in the US has been accompanied by a rise in the prevalence of type 2 diabetes (T2D) in this population. This alarming trend underscores the importance of conducting trials to evaluate new therapies in children with T2D.

Methods: A targeted review of peer-reviewed literature and trials registered on www.clinicaltrials.gov was conducted in January 2021 to identify pharmaceutical interventional studies in youth with T2D. Information regarding enrollment data, study design elements, subjects' baseline characteristics, and key treatment outcomes was documented.

Results: Among the 16 clinical studies included in this review, only five appeared to meet projected enrollment targets in < 4 years. Although three other studies met recruitment targets, two took approximately 5 years to complete and the third took nearly 10 years.

Conclusions: Despite legislation requiring evaluation of pharmaceutical treatments in pediatric populations, surprisingly few interventional studies have been conducted in children with T2D. This review highlights that recruitment challenges may be impeding the conduct and completion of interventional studies. Consequently, few pharmaceutical treatments have been proven to be effective and approved for children with T2D. Metformin and liraglutide remain the only non-insulin treatments formally approved in the US for use in this population. More clinical research is needed to support regulatory decision-making as well as treatment decisions for children with T2D in clinical settings. Sponsors and investigators will need to implement strategies for improving trial enrollment as well as work with regulatory agencies to develop novel study designs that may require fewer patients.

Keywords: Adolescent; Clinical trial; Pediatric; Type 2 diabetes; Youth.

Publication types

  • Review