Type 1 diabetes is not one but two separate conditions, according to, according to the researchers from the University of Exeter in the UK. Type 1 diabetes occurs when the body’s immune system attacks the cells that produce the hormone insulin in the pancreas, destroying them. This means they no longer regulate blood sugar levels effectively and people affected by the condition must inject insulin several times a day to do this job.
The research, published in the journal Diabetologia, shows for the first time that children who were diagnosed under 7 years old do not process insulin properly, and the cells that make it are quickly destroyed.
The findings reignite important questions about whether these “dormant” insulin-producing cells could be strengthened to work more effectively.
They have suggested new names for the two distinct forms or endotypes: Type 1 Diabetes Endotype 1 (T1DE1) for that diagnosed in the youngest children, and Type 1 Diabetes Endotype 2 (T1DE2) for those who are older at diagnosis.
The researchers explained that the finding may lead to new treatments, if they can find ways to reactivate dormant insulin-producing cells in the older age group. The researchers propose that children diagnosed between the ages of seven and 12 could fall into either the T1DE 1 or T1DE2 group. They are now working on more precise ways to define which type of diabetes such children have by studying the small amounts of insulin released into their blood.