Scientists, per a groundbreaking new study, have proposed a completely new way of looking at diabetes, which has the propensity to completely change the disease, from the way it’s diagnosed and treated, to how we live.
The study, published in The Lancet Diabetes and Endocrinology, was conducted on newly diagnosed diabetes patients as part of Swedish and Finnish cohorts. It found five different clusters within the diagnosed and found variations in the way people were insulin resistant. For example, some cases showed patients who were insulin-resistant and had an immune system that rendered them unable to produce insulin. In other cases, the body struggled to create insulin, but the immune system was fine.
This means that in time, different, more targeted and personalised treatments could become available, with the increased understanding doctors have about the disease. It could also mean a different way of diagnosing diabetes. Dr Victoria Salem, a consultant and clinical scientist at Imperial College London, told the BBC that since the study was only conducted on patients in Scandinavia, it may very well be that the variables are wider than this. “There is still a massively unknown quantity – it may well be that worldwide there are 500 subgroups depending on genetic and local environment effects. Their analysis has five clusters, but that may grow,” she says.