Children under the age of seven, who are diagnosed with type 1 diabetes, will have a different form of the condition compared to those diagnosed at age 13 or above, suggests recent research.
Type 1 diabetes occurs when the immune system in the body attacks the insulin-producing cells in the pancreas, destroying them. This means they no longer regulate blood sugar levels effectively and people affected by the condition need to inject insulin several times a day.
The research which was published in Diabetologia - the journal of the European Association for the Study of Diabetes (EASD), is a first of its kind that studied how children who were diagnosed under 7 years old do not process insulin properly and the cells that make it are quickly destroyed. Surprisingly, those who are older at diagnosis (aged 13 or above) often continue to produce normal insulin.
The Exeter team suggested new names for the two distinct endotypes: Type 1 Diabetes Endotype 1 (T1DE1) for that diagnosed in the youngest children, and for the older at diagnosis it is Type 1 Diabetes Endotype 2 (T1DE2).
Professor Noel Morgan, of the University of Exeter Medical School, said "We're extremely excited to find evidence that type 1 diabetes is two separate conditions: T1DE1 and T1DE 2. The significance of this could be enormous in helping us to understand what causes the illness, and in unlocking avenues to prevent future generations of children from getting type 1 diabetes. It might also lead to new treatments if we can find ways to reactivate dormant insulin-producing cells in the older age group. This would be a significant step towards the holy grail to find a cure for some people."
The Exeter team reached their conclusions by analysing two bioresources including the unique Exeter pancreatic biobank comprising more than 130 samples, many of which come from children and young people who died soon after being diagnosed with type 1 diabetes.
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