When one is diagnosed with diabetes, the patient is prepared to prevent and avoid the complications from the disease. There have been so many studies and research on diabetes complications. Now, researchers are looking at the problem from a different perspective since they have found diabetics who do not develop complications.
Now the question is, why don’t these diabetics develop complications? A new research is now being conducted to find out. This is called the PROLONG study and is focused on the nearly fifteen percent of all diabetics that live life complications free. The study is headed by Valeriya Lyssenko and Peter Nilsson from Lund University Diabetes Center.
What the current research provides is an admission that the fundamental mechanisms that create the environment for the development of diabetes complications are still very much unknown. One aspect of the disease though that is very well documented is the damage that the disease wreaks on an individual’s blood vessels.
Diabetes does not kill the individual but the complications often do. Among the top of the list of complications is cardiovascular disease, as diabetics have three times of the risk compared to non-diabetics. Smaller blood vessels are damaged. Nearly seventy percent of patients would have suffered from kidney damage leading to end stage renal failure. Many others suffer from eye complications with nearly two percent of these diabetics going blind eventually.
“The blood vessels and other organs of the body become sugar coated and stiff. It is reminiscent of premature biological ageing”, says Peter Nilsson.
The pilot study is being conducted in Skåne, Sweden and is projected to study diabetes patients for the next thirty years. They would be comparing complication developments in patients in specific timelines and observe those that do not develop complications during the whole duration. Participants would be answering inquiries about their lifestyle and how the disease affects them. Also part of the study would be genetic testing, blood sampling and history reviews. The researchers believe that thirty years would be the turning point for a diabetic since the absence of complications beforehand would not develop complications during the remainder of their lives.
“If we can identify factors protecting these individuals from devastating complications, then it might be possible to develop drugs that can do the same thing,” said Valeriya Lyssenko, who will lead the study. “Clearly they are different and we want to find out what it is that protects them.”