A new research published in The Lancet Diabetes & Endocrinology journal suggests that there may be five types of diabetes. So far, medical researchers only knew of type 1 and type 2 diabetes, so the findings may usher in a change in how the disease is treated.
Scientists from Lund University Diabetes Centre in Sweden and the Institute for Molecular Medicine in Finland said the five types need different treatments. “We’re taking a real step towards precision medicine,” the lead author of the research Professor Leif Groop told the BBC.
However, experts believe that changes to diabetes treatment may not be available anytime soon. Groop said the existing guidelines cannot differentiate between patients who will need intensified treatment and those who will not.
“This study moves us towards a more clinically useful diagnosis and represents an important step towards precision medicine in diabetes,” the researcher said.
Worldwide, diabetes affects about one in every 11 adults. According to the World Health Organization, India has about 70 million diabetics and may soon become the diabetes capital of the world, according to The Indian Express.
Type 1 diabetes – generally diagnosed in childhood – is caused by the body’s immune system destroying the cells that release insulin, eventually ending insulin production from the body. Type 2 diabetes – usually diagnosed in adults – develops when the body cannot produce enough insulin the right way.
The scientists found one autoimmune type of diabetes – a condition in which the body produces chemicals that destroy insulin. They also identified four distinct subtypes of type 2 diabetes, but could not confirm whether it could change over time for a patient.
The researchers studied 14,775 patients across Sweden and Finland, analysing their genes and comparing disease progression, treatment and development of complications for each type.