Those with Symptomatic Type 1 Diabetes Onset As Teenagers Have Far More Beta Cells Than Do Those Diagnosed at Six Years or Younger; These Younger Children Develop More Aggessive Form of Diabetes

Children who are diagnosed with diabetes before the age of seven develop a more aggressive form of the disease than that seen in teenagers, new research has revealed. A team led by scientists at the University of Exeter Medical School has found, for the first time, that, while children aged six or under are left with very few insulin-producing beta cells in their pancreas when diagnosed, those with onset of symptomatic type 1 diabetes as teenagers still retain large numbers of these cells. The discovery could lead to new approaches for treatment of the disease. The Exeter team worked with the University of Oslo and the network of Pancreatic Organ Donors (nPOD) to analyze the largest-ever collection of biobanked pancreas samples from people with type 1 diabetes. The study, funded by the European Union and the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation (JDRF), was published online on February 8, 2016 in the journal Diabetes. The article is titled “Differential Insulitic Profiles Determine the Extent of Beta Cell Destruction and the Age at Onset of Type 1 Diabetes.” This new study provides the first clear evidence that children who are diagnosed with type 1 diabetes at the age of six years or under develop a more aggressive form of the disease. A condition known as insulitis, representing an inflammatory process, kills off nearly all the insulin-producing beta cells in the pancreas of the young children. However, the researchers found that progression of the disease is radically different in those diagnosed as teenagers or beyond, who retain unexpectedly large numbers of beta cells at diagnosis, although these beta cells are no longer working as they should.
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