-- Robert Preidt
THURSDAY, Oct. 10 (HealthDay News) -- Most people with type 1
diabetes still have active insulin-producing cells in their
pancreas, a new study shows.
The finding suggests it may be possible one day to preserve or
replenish these cells.
Type 1 diabetes occurs when the body's immune system destroys
insulin-producing beta cells, and it was believed that all these
cells were lost within a few years of developing the disease.
But British researchers used new technology that enabled them to
detect far lower levels of insulin than was previously possible.
They tested 74 people with type 1 diabetes, and found that 73
percent of them had working beta cells that produced low levels of
insulin, regardless of how long they'd had the disease.
The study was published in the journal
"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," study leader Dr. Richard Oram, of the University of Exeter Medical School in the United Kingdom, said in a university news release. "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."
Dr. Matthew Hobbs, head of research for Diabetes UK, added: "We
know that preserving or restoring even relatively small levels of
insulin secretion in type 1 diabetes can prevent hypoglycemia [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," Hobbs said. "It is also possible that understanding why some people keep insulin production while others lose it may help answer key questions about the biology of type 1 diabetes and help advance us toward a cure for the disease."
The Nemours Foundation has more about
type 1 diabetes.
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