Tracking Diabetes First Steps

by Mark Benson on February 21, 2012

Tracking the origins of Type 1

Scientists have been taking a very detailed observation of the initial development of Type 1 diabetes in a child or young adult. The physical observation is being undertaken by a team of physicians and researchers at the University of Rochester Medical Center that have expertise in treatment and laboratory research. The team made a detailed review of the individuals with ages ranging from eight to eighteen within forty eight hours after diagnosis of type 1 diabetes.

Type 1 diabetes is not just an issue with regards to high levels of blood glucose in the body, it is also an autoimmune condition where the body’s immune system attacks and destroys the cells in the pancreas that produces the hormone insulin. Insulin is essential to controlling one’s blood sugar levels.

The rise of the incidence of Type 1 diabetes and has reported to have doubled in the last two decades. Nearly 30,000 children in the United States are diagnosed each year in estimates provided by the American Diabetes Association.

According to Nicholas Jospe MD, Chief of Pediatric Endocrinology at the Golisano Children’s Hospital in the University of Rochester Medical Center and his colleagues, the trend has become very significant, with about 90 new cases of Type 1 diabetes each year compared to just 25 cases two decades ago.

Each day in the medical center, Dr Jospe advises children and their families on how to cope with the effects of the condition. In another part of the center meanwhile, researchers and immunologists such as Dr. Deborah J. Fowell toil over high tech equipment looking over T-cells and macrophages to unlock the secrets of the immune system.

The study is to be published in the Diabetes journal, these two eminent doctors have pooled their knowledge and skills to be able to view the condition through eyes that could not be done solitarily. The scientists and doctors understand that the condition is becoming more prevalent but finding the factors that trigger it is what needs to be found. Other issues include why certain children are more prone to it or even why the numbers are actually increasing.

The researchers found clues in the so-called honeymoon phase in the newly diagnosed diabetics, which is a period when the disease is easily managed in individuals compared to any other time.

Diabetes is recognized as a condition that never goes away, unlike other autoimmune diseases that have peaks and troughs of remissions and relapses. This condition on the other hand has one early remission phase that commences within weeks from diagnosis and lasts for up to two years. At this period, patients are healthy and do not need insulin in large amounts to manage the condition. This is the sweet spot for diabetes management and new treatments in use and in development are focused on these crucial months.

Jospe adds, “This is a period of great interest. During this period, blood glucose levels actually normalize more than any other time and patients do not require that much insulin; it’s as though the body were still producing insulin. But we do not understand the nature of this remission and that is what is holding the field back.”

He further adds, “If we knew what was happening, perhaps we could replicate it or prolong it for the benefit of the patient. Most treatments today attempt to do just that – prolong the honeymoon period. But there has not been much success thus far.”

The opinions expressed in this article do not necessarily reflect the views of the Community and should not be interpreted as medical advice. Please see your doctor before making any changes to your diabetes management plan.

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

pgy March 13, 2012 at 9:14 pm

What I don't understand about this research is why it wasn't done 30 or 40 years ago. It just goes to show how much they don't know. What a brilliant idea. Lets have a look at the people when they first get it.


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