News Monday January 23, 2012

Breakthrough study into the future of Type 1 diabetes

A new study brings hope for the future of Type 1 diabetes sufferers as cells producing insulin are inadvertently destroyed.

The disease fighting human T-cells were witnessed, for the first time, destroying the insulin-producing cells by Professor Andy Sewell of Cardiff University along with diabetes experts from King’s College London.

It is not yet fully understood as to why the body attacks the insulin cells in the pancreas, but witnessing the destruction of these cells is a step towards a better understanding of the mechanism, which could help those at risk of the disease to be diagnosed earlier.

Professor Sewell, a human T-cells expert, said of the breakthrough study, “[o]ur findings show how killer T-cells might play an important role in autoimmune diseases like diabetes and we’ve secured the first ever glimpse of the mechanism by which killer T-cells can attack our own body cells to cause disease.”

It is with this knowledge that there is future hope to prevent these ‘killer’ cells from attacking the body’s insulin levels - which a lack of could be fatal.

It is estimated that 2.8 million people in the UK suffer from the disease - a quarter of which have Type 1 diabetes and which, at present, has no prevention. With this type of diabetes, as there is no insulin produced in the body at all, the patient will need to receive treatment throughout their life.

It was recently reported that an £18-weekly jab could help those with diabetes, most of whom inject themselves daily with insulin - currently the most common form of treatment.

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