How Close Are We To Finding A Cure For Type 1 Diabetes?

Type One Diabetes is genetically inherited and therefore the disease cannot be immunised against, nor can you change your lifestyle to cure it. But, by no stretch of the imagination, does that mean that continued research into the disease could one day result in a cure being found.

There have already been significant leaps forward in the search for finding new ways of getting insulin into the bloodstream – the main way of managing the disease – such as automatic implants that measure blood sugar levels and apply drugs when necessary. And while there isn’t a ‘cure’ expected any time soon, there are certainly steps being made towards understanding the disease better that might lead to a cure.

Type One Diabetes is something we understand in terms of its mechanisms, but not why these mechanisms take place. Basically, cells in the pancreas, called Beta Cells, supply the body with insulin when there is enough sugar in the blood, telling the rest of the body to stop taking sugar in. However, in Type One sufferers, these pancreatic cells are attacked by the body’s immune system, specifically white blood cells called B cells and T cells, meaning they can’t produce insulin. This leads to rising blood sugar levels, which ultimately cause death if not treated.

One approach is to study the interaction of B cells with the pancreas to figure out why they trigger a response in the immune system. A team of specialists at King’s College London is currently investigating a specific molecule on the pancreatic cells of Type One sufferers, called HLA molecules, which seem to cause the body to think there’s a problem. If this work can figure out a way of restricting the action of the B cells on these HLA molecules, it might just lead to a cure. Needless to say, this is extremely exciting news!

Another approach that students at Cardiff University are investigating involves looking at the B cells themselves and trying to isolate what makes them tick. Again, the hope would be that there is some characteristic of these cells, which can be used to the advantage of patients.

With any of these approaches, substantial amounts of money and hard work is required to make progress, and although there have been successes there’s still a lot to do to find the cure for diabetes. However, charities around the world are dedicated to the cause and continue the search to find the cure.

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Thanks to Jane Harrow for this post. Jane comes from the UK and posts regularly on a number of health blogs.

Find more diabetes related posts:

  • Sugar, Sugar on my Tongue
  • Is It Possible to Ever Cure Diabetes?
  • 5 Common Myths About Type 1 Diabetes
  • The Symptoms Of Diabetes Type 1
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