Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Insulin 'still produced' in most people with type 1 diabetes

Date:
October 9, 2013
Source:
Diabetologia
Summary:
New technology has enabled scientists to prove that most people with type 1 diabetes have active beta cells, the specialized insulin-making cells found in the pancreas. Type 1 diabetes occurs when the body's immune system destroys the cells making insulin, the substance that enables glucose in the blood to gain access to the body's cells.

New technology has enabled scientists to prove that most people with type 1 diabetes have active beta cells, the specialized insulin-making cells found in the pancreas. Type 1 diabetes occurs when the body's immune system destroys the cells making insulin, the substance that enables glucose in the blood to gain access to the body's cells.

It was previously thought that all of these cells were lost within a few years of developing the condition. However, new research led by the University of Exeter Medical School, which has been funded by Diabetes UK and published in Diabetologia (the journal of the European Association for the Study of Diabetes), shows that around three quarters of patients with the condition possess a small number of beta cells that are not only producing insulin, but that they are producing it in response to food in the same way as someone without the condition. The study, which was supported by the National Institute for Health Research, through the Exeter Clinical Research Facility, tested 74 volunteers. Researchers measured how much natural insulin they produced and whether it responded to meals, a sign that the cells are healthy and active. They found that 73 per cent produced low levels of insulin, and that this occurred regardless of how long the patient was known to have diabetes. Researchers studied the response of the insulin production to a meal to prove that the low level insulin production was coming from working beta cells.

Dr Richard Oram, of the University of Exeter Medical School, who led the study, said: "It's extremely interesting that low levels of insulin are produced in most people with Type 1 Diabetes, even if they've had it for 50 years. The fact that insulin levels go up after a meal indicates these remaining beta cells can respond to a meal in the normal way -- it seems they are either immune to attack, or they are regenerating. The researchers used new technologies which are able to detect far lower levels of insulin than was previously possible. The levels are so low that scientists had previously thought no insulin was produced."

Dr Matthew Hobbs, Head of Research for Diabetes UK, said: "We know that preserving or restoring even relatively small levels of insulin secretion in Type 1 diabetes can prevent hypoglycaemia (low glucose levels) and reduce complications and therefore much research has focused on ways to make new cells that can be transplanted into the body. This research shows that some of a person's own beta cells remain and therefore it may be possible to regenerate these cells in the future. It is also possible that understanding why some people keep insulin production whilst others lose it may help answer key questions about the biology of Type 1 diabetes and help advance us towards a cure for the disease."

Type 1 diabetes affects around 200,000 people in the UK alone. The disease commonly starts in childhood and causes the body's own immune system to attack and destroy the insulin-producing cells in the pancreas, leaving the patient dependent on life-long insulin injections.

Dr Oram said: "We are now able to study this area in much more detail. By studying differences between those who still make insulin and those who do not, we may help work out how to preserve or replenish beta cells in type 1 diabetes. It could be a key step on the road to therapies which protect beta cells or encourage them to regenerate.

"The next step is a much larger-scale study, to look at the genetics and immune systems of people still making insulin, and to answer the important question of whether the complications of Type 1 Diabetes are reduced in people with low levels of insulin."

One of the participants, Alex Nesbitt, 56, was diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes 36 years ago, and is monitored by an insulin pump which is permanently attached to his body. He said the condition was "trying in the extreme," particularly because of the stigma attached to the condition. He said: "For a very long time, people have believed that if you have Type 1 Diabetes, that's the end of your insulin production. This study raises some major questions about whether that's actually the case. It's very exciting for current opinion to be challenged in this way, and I'm fascinated to know what difference it will mean for the future."


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Diabetologia. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Richard A. Oram, Angus G. Jones, Rachel E. J. Besser, Bridget A. Knight, Beverley M. Shields, Richard J. Brown, Andrew T. Hattersley, Timothy J. McDonald. The majority of patients with long-duration type 1 diabetes are insulin microsecretors and have functioning beta cells. Diabetologia, 2013; DOI: 10.1007/s00125-013-3067-x

Cite This Page:

Diabetologia. "Insulin 'still produced' in most people with type 1 diabetes." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 9 October 2013. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/10/131009213816.htm>.
Diabetologia. (2013, October 9). Insulin 'still produced' in most people with type 1 diabetes. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 22, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/10/131009213816.htm
Diabetologia. "Insulin 'still produced' in most people with type 1 diabetes." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/10/131009213816.htm (accessed July 22, 2014).

Share This




More Health & Medicine News

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Gilead's $1000-a-Pill Drug Could Cure Hep C in HIV-Positive People

Gilead's $1000-a-Pill Drug Could Cure Hep C in HIV-Positive People

TheStreet (July 21, 2014) New research shows Gilead Science's drug Sovaldi helps in curing hepatitis C in those who suffer from HIV. In a medical study, the combination of Gilead's Hep C drug with anti-viral drug Ribavirin cured 76% of HIV-positive patients suffering from the most common hepatitis C strain. Hepatitis C and related complications have been a top cause of death in HIV-positive patients. Typical medication used to treat the disease, including interferon proteins, tended to react badly with HIV drugs. However, Sovaldi's %1,000-a-pill price tag could limit the number of patients able to access the treatment. TheStreet's Keris Lahiff reports from New York. Video provided by TheStreet
Powered by NewsLook.com
$23.6 Billion Awarded To Widow In Smoking Lawsuit

$23.6 Billion Awarded To Widow In Smoking Lawsuit

Newsy (July 20, 2014) Cynthia Robinson claims R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Company hid the health and addiction risks of its products, leading to the death of her husband in 1996. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Tooth Plaque Provides Insight Into Diets Of Ancient People

Tooth Plaque Provides Insight Into Diets Of Ancient People

Newsy (July 19, 2014) Research on plaque from ancient teeth shows that our prehistoric ancestor's had a detailed understanding of plants long before developing agriculture. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Contaminated Water Kills 3 Babies in South African Town

Contaminated Water Kills 3 Babies in South African Town

AFP (July 18, 2014) Contaminated water in South Africa's northwestern town of Bloemhof kills three babies and hospitalises over 500 people. The incident highlights growing fears over water safety in South Africa. Duration: 02:22 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins